Sunday, July 5, 2020
Why Have Blaine County Hispanics Fared Better During Pandemic?
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Neighbors Helping Neighbors and the Crisis Hotline are among the local organizations who have tried to get accurate information to the Hispanic and Latino communities of Blaine County since the coronavirus pandemic started.
   
Saturday, May 30, 2020
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

A number of Eye on Sun Valley readers were elated to learn that Blaine County does not have a disproportionate number of Hispanic and Latino residents with COVID-19 as do so many places across the United States.

And they want to know why that is.

Blaine County, in case you missed Friday’s article, boasts a population in which 22.5 percent are Hispanic or Latino. Yet only 18.64 percent of those who have tested positive for the coronavirus are Hispanic or Latino.

 
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Paul Ries said for Blaine County reported no new cases of COVID-19 for the second day in a row. But Idaho gained 34 new cases taking it to 2,803 cases since mid-March.
 

In contrast, 29.5 percent of Gooding County’s population is Hispanic or Latino but they make up 63.41 percent of COVID-19 cases. It’s a similar story in Cassia, Jerome, Lincoln, Minidoka and Twin Falls counties. The exception: Camas where Hispanic or Latino residents make up 6.5 percent of the population but none have tested positive for the corona crud.

Health officials have not sorted out all the answers, says Brianna Bodily, public information officer for South Central Public Health District.

“Camas County is simple to address. We have had only one case in that county so, statistically speaking, it was much more likely for that one case to be non-Hispanic,” said Bodily. “But Blaine County is a little harder to answer.”

It could be that they fared so well because it tended to be non-Hispanics that flocked to apres ski parties and other events during a busy two weeks of March before they realized the necessity of such precautions as physical distancing.

And perhaps fewer members of Blaine County’s Hispanic and Latino community work in food processing plants where health officials have detected clusters of COVID-19.

Some of the reasons Hispanic and Latino people tend to amass more positive tests can be attributed to average household size, Bodily said.

“Our Hispanic and Latino residents have, on average, more people living within their households who are exposed when one of those household members come home with COVID-19. The percentage of Hispanic/Latino people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 has also increased after increased testing within food processing plants. Blaine County hasn’t seen any of that increased testing yet.”

Bodily noted that Hispanic and Latino residents in Blaine and the other counties are distrustful about  COVID-19 information coming from a government institution.

“We only care about investigating this disease and helping the people who have contracted it, but there are some concerns out there that we will pursue details about citizenship or other uncomfortable topics. We continue to work on breaking down those barriers by working with community leaders and consistently showing that our concern is for their well-being, not their legal status,” she said.

The Health District has created a community toolbox, in which it is constantly updating material in English, Spanish and several other languages spoken by refugees in the Twin Falls area.

“It is really important that our residents know we care about each one of them, no matter the language they speak,” said Bodily. “We will continue to do everything we can to reach out to them with information that is helpful and valuable as they make decisions to protect themselves and their family from this disease.”

You can view the community information toolbox at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/2lgxoespit3zjr0/AAAzCqGEx0Pbqt8dSiyV-gsIa?dl=0

Or, call the Spanish hotline at 208-737-5965.

 

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