New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention proves Black and Latino communities are disproportionately affected by COVID-19. It’s an issue NBC 7 has been tracking in the South Bay for months.
Rosario Rodriguez, of Chula Vista, was diagnosed with COVID-19 in April. She was in the hospital for 49 days and the majority of her time there was spent on a ventilator. She moved from Jalisco, Mexico to Chula Vista 30 years ago and is part of the minority hit by coronavirus at a staggering rate.
Data collected across at least 1,000 U.S. counties shows Black and Latino people have been twice as likely to die from COVID-19 and three times as likely to become infected than White people.
“It was really hard, because I couldn’t move. I couldn’t talk,” said Rodriguez as she remembered regaining consciousness after being placed on a ventilator for more than 20 days.
Rodriguez said she’s been back home for about a month now and is recovering well. “It was a challenge, but I made it,” said Rodriguez.
In San Diego County, Latino or Hispanic patients account for 63% of positive COVID-19 cases, followed by white patients at 23% and Black patients at 4%, through July 5.
“It makes me feel worried and sad because Latino families don’t get it that we have to take care,” said Rodriguez. While she did not have underlying medical conditions, Rodriguez said she knows the Latino community is known to have more health issues than White people. “There’s more diabetes, more obesity, and high blood pressure. So that doesn’t help.”
Experts attribute part of the findings to an increased chance of exposure. Many people of color have front-line jobs, use public transportation and live in multigenerational homes.
“What this has done is put a light on the historical deficiencies and inequities that have plagued our community,” said Roberto Alcantar, Chief Strategy Officer for the Chicano Federation and a member of the county’s Recovery Task Force. He said he’s working on addressing the Latino community’s needs.
“We don’t have the economic opportunity that we need. We don’t have access to the housing that we need or the education that we need,” said Alcantar. “We have to look at affordable housing, because one of the things that we’ve learned is that a lot of families are having to share one rough because of lack of access to affordable housing. And when you look at the fact that so many of our community members, particularly people of color and those in the South Bay, they make up so many of those essential workers.”
Alcantar said the Chicano Federation is conducting a community survey right now through July 10 to evaluate and identify what resources the South Bay community needs to safely navigate through the pandemic and lower the risk of spread.
Analysts suspect there are many, many more Black and Latino people across the U.S. who have been infected with the virus and have not been accounted for.