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State officials reach out to Latinos to prevent the spread of COVID-19

Four GOP candidates are on the ballot for the governor's race which has gained much interest from Utah voters, as this election guarantees a new state leader. (Utah State Capitol, credit Paul Nelson)

UTAH STATE CAPITOL – Governor Herbert and medical officials have a special message for Utah’s Latin American community.  They’re urging all Latinos to take better care of themselves to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  It’s a community that’s being hit especially hard by the disease.

On Thursday, state health officials reported 590 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed with 34 new hospitalizations and one more coronavirus-related death.  Governor Gary Herbert and Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox held a press conference, in Spanish, specifically aimed at addressing the spread of the disease among Utah’s Latino community.

“The growth in the number of cases in the Latino community is alarming,” says Governor Herbert.

Although the Latino community only accounts for 14 percent of the overall state population, they make up nearly half of COVID-19 cases.

“The Latino community make up 43 percent of COVID-19 cases in Utah,” according to Dr. Tamara Moores with Intermountain Healthcare.

Moores reminded everyone, the guidelines to stop the virus from spreading haven’t changed.  She urged people to wear masks when they’re in public, not to have large groups of people together and to stay at least six feet away from others. 

“It’s important to keep your distance and although I want to shake hands and I want to give hugs, unfortunately, during this time, that is not appropriate if we’re going to stop the spread of the disease,” she says.

Why are Latinos being impacted so severely from the disease?  Community advocates say there could be several reasons.  Mayra Cedano with Comunidades Unidas says Latinos are more likely to live in multi-generation households, where the virus can spread, easily.  She also say many Latinos weren’t able to maintain social distance because of their work.

She says, “Many of us had the privilege to be working from home, remotely through Zoom meetings.  A lot of our working class families and our immigrant families didn’t have that.”

Advocates also wanted to stress that there are resources out there for Latinos in need.  Cedano says people don’t need to be afraid to ask for assistance from the Utah Department of Workforce Services, Medicaid or WIC.

“Our agency, our community group, has been assisting families in the application process.”