Latino community makes up 45% of coronavirus cases in R.I.

The Rhode Island Department of Health shared new information about the coronavirus relating to demographics. 

RHODE ISLAND (WLNE) – The Rhode Island Department of Health shared new information about the coronavirus relating to demographics.  The data shows a significant number of cases are coming from the Latino community.

“Our preliminary numbers estimate that roughly 45% of our COVID-19 cases in Rhode Island are among Latino communities. That means they are significantly over represented in the groups of people that have tested positive,” said Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, Director of the DOH.

The mayor of Central Falls is worried about this new data, as 70% of his city’s residents are Latino.

“I’m very alarmed,” said Mayor James Diossa.

Nationwide, minority communities are being disproportionately affected by the coronavirus.

“When you have lower income and can’t afford lots of fresh fruit or vegetables that will put you at higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, asthma, and it’s those underlying issues that put you at great risk of serious illness or death,” said Dr. Michael Fine, the chief health strategist for Central Falls.

According to researchers at Brown University, minority groups don’t have as much opportunity to social distance.

“People in these groups tend to have to use public transportation,” said Dr. Jasjit Ahluwalia, professor of public health and medicine at Brown. “They’re going to possibly work in the fast food sector– McDonalds, Starbucks, possibly restaurants that are doing take out and delivery. They’re just getting more exposed.”

These might be some of the reasons 45% of the state’s cases have come from the Latino community.

“It is staggering. There’s nothing in the United States reported at that dimension,” said Dr. Ahluwalia.

There are 103 confirmed COIVD-19 cases in Central Falls, but city officials think it’s much worse and believe residents aren’t getting tested because they can’t get to drive-thru testing sites or are afraid to go due to their immigration status.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re undocumented, if you don’t have money, or insurance, or a primary care doctor, we need to you to get tested,” said Mayor Diossa.

The mayor is working with the state to get more rapid testing sites in the Central Falls area so residents can easily walk to them.

“We’re going to need a lot of help,” said Diossa.

The NAACP of Providence is also calling on the state to release more data on demographics.

“We need to know by now, every ethnic or racial group as possible,” said Jim Vincent, President of the NAACP Providence branch.

The Rhode Island Legislative Black and Latino Caucus is also asking the governor to release more specific data on demographics.

The public and its leaders need this data in order to stop this troubling pattern,” said Rep. Jean Philippe Barros (D-Dist. 59, Pawtucket), Chairman of the RI Legislative Black and Latino Caucus.

Categories: Coronavirus, Rhode Island