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More Outreach Crucial to Help Protect WI Latinos from COVID

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As in other states, Wisconsin is seeing data that show its Latinx population is being disproportionately affected by the pandemic. (Adobe Stock)
As in other states, Wisconsin is seeing data that show its Latinx population is being disproportionately affected by the pandemic. (Adobe Stock)
November 25, 2020

MADISON, Wis. - This week, Wisconsin health officials shared more sobering COVID-19 data, and the pandemic's effect has been devastating in Latino communities. A Madison group says education is key to protecting this population.

The Latino Health Council says in Dane County, Latinos make up nearly 16% of COVID-19 cases, although they're only 7% of the county's population. Across the U.S, pandemic safety compliance has been an issue.

And the council's co-chair, Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, said it's sometimes a struggle for Latino families to adopt necessary precautions.

"If you live in a suburban house, and you can social distance yourself from everybody else that is not in your household, that works," said Bidar-Sielaff. "But many people live in kind of more dense and crowded environments."

For instance, she said, it can be tougher for apartment-dwellers to shield themselves from infection.

And some people also have trust issues with public health agencies. The council is working with local health leaders to boost messaging, including Spanish-language media.

On Tuesday, the state announced another 104 novel coronavirus deaths.

Bidar-Sielaff said many in Latino communities who haven't lost employment are having to work in jobs that provide little protection from COVID-19. She said that puts them in a difficult situation - they can't easily adhere to the safety guidelines on jobs they need for survival.

"For people to really be able to follow the recommendations that are given to them," said Bidar-Sielaff, "And not feel that that they're making choices between their health or putting food on the table for their families."

The council says its outreach also includes mental health, noting the population it's trying to assist is seeing more anxiety. Statewide, nearly 41,000 people in the Latinx community have tested positive for COVID-19, with nearly 220 deaths.

Mike Moen, Public News Service - WI