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Why COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting D-FW's Hispanic community

In large Texas counties, COVID-19 is affecting the Hispanic community at a disproportional rate.

ARLINGTON, Texas — Cultural norms, a lack of culturally-appropriate messaging, greater representation in front line and essential jobs, and barriers to healthcare and testing are to blame for disproportionately-high COVID-19 rates among Hispanics in Dallas-Fort Worth, according to city and community leaders.

Hispanics make up 30% of the population in Tarrant County but 39% of the COVID-19 cases.

In Dallas County, Hispanics make up 41% of the population but 57% of positive COVID-19 cases. 

Similar trends are found in most large counties, according to Domingo Garcia, national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens.

“It’s a statewide emergency for Latinos here in Texas,” Garcia said. “It’s not about red or blue.  It’s about Americans, it’s about Texans, and it’s about lives.”

Cultural norms are part of the reason, according to Liz Cedillo-Pereira, chief of equity and inclusion for the City of Dallas. 

“There is a disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the LatinX community,” Cedillo-Pereira said. “Multi-generational households where the 'abuelita,' the grandmother, is living with the family. That’s an issue related to density.”

Latinos are also more likely to work in front line and essential jobs that don’t offer workers healthcare benefits, such as food and agriculture and construction.

“Many of the people who are essential workers are working in those occupations that, in fact, never stopped working, even after many of us were able to quarantine," Cedillo-Pereira said.

A lack of federal aid and culturally-appropriate messaging also plays a role, Cedillo-Pereira said.

To address the disparity, the City of Dallas is launching a new COVID-19 testing site at the Mexican consulate July 8.

The City is also partnering with community leaders in a new LatinX taskforce and a resilience fund for immigrant residents who don’t qualify for federal stimulus funds.

“This fund will provide critical cash in hand to families that are impacted by COVID-19 severely,” Cedillo-Pereira said.

For weeks, LULAC pushed for a statewide mask order, which Gov. Greg Abbott signed Thursday.

RELATED: Gov. Greg Abbott issues statewide order requiring face masks in counties with 20 or more COVID-19 cases

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in North Texas, Garcia urged the state government to provide all citizens with a free mask and access to COVID-19 testing at no cost.

“We need to make sure everybody is provided healthcare, including undocumented immigrants," Garcia said. “They are your neighbors and they need to be taken care of. If not they will get other people sick and that will continue the community spread.”

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