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State Holds Spanish Press Conference As Concern Of Pandemic’s Impact On Community Grows

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Health officials said the COVID-19 pandemic is hitting the Hispanic community especially hard, which is why the Utah COVID-19 Task Force held a press conference entirely in Spanish to provide information and guidelines for Utah’s Latino community.

Local health officials said there were several factors that were creating the perfect storm hitting the Hispanic community with COVID-19.

“La comunidad Latina es importante para el estado de Utah (The Hispanic community is very important for the State of Utah),” Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox said.

Cox and Gov. Gary Herbert polished up their Spanish-language skills in a first-ever COVID-19 press conference specifically for Utah’s Hispanic community.

“Bienvenidos mis amigos y vecinos (Welcome my friends and neighbors),” Herbert said. “The growth in the number of cases in the Latino Community is alarming,” Herbert declared.

According to health officials, Hispanics account for 23 percent (38 out of 164 deaths as of Thursday) of COVID-19 deaths and nearly half of all COVID-19 cases in the state.

“As of today, June 25, the Latino community makes up 43 percent of COVID-19 cases in Utah. In contrast, they make up only 14.2 percent of the Utah population,” said Dr. Tamara Morse Todd with Intermountain Healthcare. 

Officials pointed to a myriad of factors for the racial disparity in infection rates and said social distancing is challenging for Hispanics both at work and at home.

Officials said Hispanics were more likely to live in multigenerational homes and many work on the front lines of the service industry, where an outbreak can spread quickly.

A study by the Multicultural Subcommittee of the state’s COVID-19 task force also found there was a language barrier in providing information and resources to the Hispanic community.

That’s why local leaders said Thursday’s push to reach out in Spanish was so important, as Hispanics may also fear seeking medical care and testing for lack of financial resources and fear of their legal status coming into play.

However, Mayra Cedano with Comunidades Unidas, said services are available to undocumented immigrants regardless of their immigration status.

Health officials added testing is available free of charge for those without insurance or whose insurance does not cover COVID-19 testing.

Cameron Ruppe with the Utah Occupational Safety and Health Administration said employers must follow COVID-19 guidelines and provide face masks for employees who cannot social distance.

Ruppe said that employers could be fined if they force sick employees or those waiting for test results to show up for work.

Recursos para la comunidad hispana —

  • Para presenter una queja de empleo llame al la agencia estate UOSH (Utah Occupational Safety and Health) – 801-530-6901 o visitor www.laborcommission.utah.gov
  • Comunidades Unidas — información sobre recursos para la comunidad hispana. Se puede llamar al 801-487-4143.
  • Para más información sobre el COVID-19, visite: https://multicultural.utah.gov/covid-19-resources.

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