San Diego

Latino Community Hit Hardest by COVID-19 in San Diego County

The latest numbers from County of San Diego, Health and Human Services Agency paint a grim picture for Latinos in San Diego

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The latest numbers in San Diego County indicate Latinos are the hardest hit community by COVID-19. Now, Latino leaders are talking about how to lessen the impacts.

“We’re going to see the fallout from COVID-19 for a really long time. And as we know in San Diego County, Latinos are being disproportionately affected so we want to make sure we are planning ahead but everything we do is informed by data and by the voice of our community,” said Nancy Maldonado, CEO at the Chicano Federation.

Maldonado was joined by former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Friday to discuss the coronavirus impacts on the Latino community and how to better serve those San Diego residents.

The latest numbers from County of San Diego, Health and Human Services Agency paint a grim picture for Latinos in San Diego.

Of the 12,401 positive cases reported Friday, 6,665 were Latino or 65.8%.

“There are multiple reasons why the virus is having a more severe impact in the Latino community,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer.

One of those reasons may be they are more likely to be essential or frontline workers, they have more underlying medical conditions, they live in a multigenerational and more crowded household, or often show more physical affection, the county said.

NBC 7 Investigates has been tracking positive cases by zip code and found the top three highest:

San Ysidro, Otay Mesa, and Barrio Logan/Logan Heights, they are all communities with large Latino populations.

This data is not a full representation of cases. Totals are based on patients' resident zip code, and are not a representation of where someone contracted COVID-19. Because not every single resident is tested regularly, officials with the County Health and Human Services Agency say the number of people infected with COVID-19 in the county is likely much higher than the reported total.

Across Barrio Logan and Logan Heights, many told NBC 7 they believe cases are on the rise because the community needs to go to work, and staying at home is not an option.

“I feel like Latinos are always wanting to provide for their families and they’ll be working wherever because we have to put everything aside to provide for our families,” said Barrio Logan business owner Stevie Ortega.

Stevie's Barber Shop in Barrio Logan
Melissa Adan/NBC 7

Ortega said he's been working through the pandemic to open up his new barbershop, Stevie’s, on Logan Avenue. Ortega said the majority of his clients are essential workers.

“We have NASSCO here and so we cut (their hair) all those guys and they haven’t stopped working. There’s a lot of people out there that have to,” expressed Ortega.

The non-profit organization, Chicano Federation is aiming to be a trusted resource for information in the Latino community to help them out.

Right now, they’re conducting surveys about testing and contact tracing and if Latinos in San Diego are participating in either.

Mayor Villaraigosa attributed the Latino high rate of COVID-19 infection to lack of healthcare, individuals mainly working in essential businesses and many who have undocumented status.

“I think it’s important that we unite in our community and say, if we want to open up the economy, if we want to get out of this crisis, flatten the curve, we need to wear masks. We need to engage in safe distancing and organizations like the Chicano Federation are putting forth those good public policy messages,” Villaraigosa said.

San Diego resident Coach Joe Seals said he’s concerned with what teens and young adults are doing during the pandemic and wants to ensure they have a place to go and a sense of purpose.

“It’s hard for our communities not just from a health standpoint but you know there are mental health issues going on in the house,” explained Seals.

He worries about families grappling with poverty and depression.

“COVID will be gone at some point, but the long term effects from COVID we will live for years to come and that’s the part of ‘how do we handle that?’” Seals said.

CORONAVIRUS IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY: What You Need to Know: Latest Developments | Resources | How to Help | What Has Reopened? | Photos: Coronavirus Impact in SD

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