Push to educate Latino community of COVID-19 risk after spike in Forsyth County

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FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. — After a disturbing spike in the number of COVID-19 cases within the Latino community, a coordinated effort has begun to help the community flatten the curve of the virus.

Since May 3, Forsyth County has seen 544 positive new cases of the coronavirus. Experts in the community said more than half of the cases are within the Latino community.

“54 percent,” explained Mari Jo Turner, the executive director with the Hispanic League.

At the start of the pandemic, the Latino community, like most all communities, was skeptical of the impacts of the virus.

“It really wasn’t something that was taken seriously, until it started hitting closer to home,” described Gabriel Bottazzi. He owns LliBott Consultorios Médicos, a clinic specifically geared toward the Hispanic population.

He explained his clinic only began seeing a large number of Latino patients coming in for testing since the start of May.

“The past few weeks, we have seen a significant increase in not only the amount of test, but some of the results are coming in positive. … Since there have been a couple of hot spots in the community that have surfaced … everyone is more prone to take this seriously,” he said.

When it comes to access to health care, Latino populations are found to have lesser options available to them. Community experts also detail that Latino patients are more likely to put off seeking treatment until it’s too late.

Tuner explained, “some of these here without documentation are afraid to give out that information, their private information.” By not seeking treatment, many of them are showing symptoms of the virus, and are continuing to be around family members, or going to work out of fear of losing employment.

There is also a vast difference in traditional living situations, when compared to living situations found with most Latino families.

When asked, Hispanic League representatives explained that typical Hispanic families all live within the same household. This is not only a part of their culture, but it also allows them to save money.

“Not only do they have the parents and the children, but you also have the grandparents, the aunts, and the uncles, and the cousins all living in the same household. And so when the have some that might be exposed to, or have COVID, there’s no easy way for them to social distance,” Turner said. “They’re all sharing that same culture, that same food, and the tradition that they have. So it’s very difficult for them to have the understanding of how to do that social distancing.”

Various organizations such as Forsyth County, Winston-Salem, Love Outloud, and Hispanic League have begun to pass out tens of thousands of masks in the community.

They’ve also placed flyers in several stores to educate customers on the importance of wearing masks, washing hands, and social distancing.

The Hispanic League also hosts Facebook Live education videos for the community every Thursday at 11:30 a.m.

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