California's Hispanic community is being hit the hardest by COVID-19

Friday, May 8, 2020
Why California's Hispanic community is being disproportionately hit by COVID-19
Members of the Hispanic community make up 39% of the population, but more than 49% of all California coronavirus cases.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Demographic data tell us the COVID-19 pandemic is having drastically different impacts depending on your ethnicity.

When the tests come back, the results don't discriminate. National data shows the African-American community dying at a much higher rate than anyone else.

But in California, it's the Hispanic community testing positive in higher numbers. They make up 39% of the population, but more than 49% of all California coronavirus cases.

"That definitely is a big population here in our county," said Dr. Rais Vohra, the Fresno County medical officer. "We know that they're being affected in a way that is a little bit higher than the rest of the other ethnic breakdowns."

Dr. Vohra has noticed the trend, but says the sample size in Fresno County is too small to make any definitive conclusions about what's happening.

74.1 out of every 100,000 Hispanics in Fresno County have gotten sick.

No other demographic is close. White Caucasians are next at 49.5 per 100,000.

One explanation, according to Mi Familia Vota's Samuel Molina, is their line of work.

"The farmworking community, we don't have, there's not a lot of space to practice social distancing," Molina said.

Packing plants, for example, have seen case counts climb in recent weeks.

The rate at which the virus is killing people in California falls right about even with the state's demographics, though.

So Molina's main concern, for now, is seeing more and more people getting sick and losing their already tenuous income.

"It tells me that maybe not enough information is getting out to the Latino community about COVID-19," Molina said.

"We've been working hard with Spanish language messaging and with our Spanish language media partners to really try to get the message about prevention, about safety, about how to get tested to those populations," Dr. Vohra said.

Molina's organization will try to fix that Thursday night with a Facebook Live discussion about coronavirus, the census, and the upcoming election.

The United Way and Fresno city council member Esmeralda Soria will join the conversation, hoping to get lifesaving information to a community hit hard so far.

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