Santa Clara County directs focus at COVID rate among Latinos

Latinos make up 58% of all COVID-19 cases despite accounting for only 25% of the population. On Wednesday, community leaders in the South Bay urged them not to gather in large groups this Thanksgiving.

“It is frustrating to see my community is not following the protocols,” said Ricardo Romero, Santa Clara County Public Health Department spokesman.

Romero spoke about what he called the alarming numbers of COVID cases in the Latinx community. The majority are in East San Jose and southern Santa Clara County.

Romero and four members of his family have tested positive for the virus. His 70-year-old aunt died two weeks ago.

"She was a person who taught me how to cook,” said Romero. “She was a person who was so supportive to every family member.”

With underlying health issues, his aunt contracted COVID from a family member who was asymptomatic and got infected at a construction work site. Three of his uncles also died from the virus

“It’s painful that I’m never going to see them again,” said Romero.

Community leaders said COVID is hitting the Latinx community the hardest.

“The number of cases in our community for Covid-19 that are Latino is 58%,” said Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez. “We believe almost 60% of them come from community transmission.”

The reasons may be socioeconomic. Many Latinos have essential jobs in restaurants and public transportation. If they test positive, some can't afford not to work.

There’s also stigma of getting tested afraid of their immigration status. Many Latinx families live in multigenerational households, which may be another factor.

“There are folks who are living in crowded conditions,” said San Jose City Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco. “There are people who don't have adequate access to healthcare.”

“I’ve already lost four family members, I don't want to lose my mom,” said Romero.

Romero understands people are dealing with pandemic fatigue but he urges people to think twice about how to spend the holiday.

“If you want to be able to celebrate with our loved ones next year, this year today is the time to act,” said Romero.

Santa Clara County has resources on its web site to provide food and rental assistance for those who test positive for Covid, even help with paying for a hotel room to isolate and quarantine.