Covid-19 brings new urgency to health in the Latino community

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to affect Latino communities in North Carolina, outreach workers provide public health information, in Spanish, and culturally relevant to this growing population.

Héctor Salgado, director of community impact for the American Heart Association in Charlotte, was leading an effort to raise awareness of heart health and blood pressure control among Latinos when the pandemic struck. With the help of the Mecklenburg County Department of Public Health and Blue Cross / Blue Shield, he said, the program shifted toward prevention of COVID-19. As the crisis worsened, Salgado said, he began to notice what he described as rampant misinformation in the Latino community.

And those resources are not reflected, He said. I went to the farmers market and I saw signs, I saw social distancing. And then, I go to the flea market, where there are many more Latinos, and I don’t see signs, I don’t see distancing.

This month, he said, print, radio and social media ads will emphasize the importance of wearing masks and include the Mecklenburg County COVID-19 hotline number. Anyone with questions or concerns about the coronavirus can call 980-314-9400.

Salgado said the six-week heart health pilot program has moved to virtual classes and is now training more than 100 community members on how to control blood pressure. He noted that around the 47 of Hispanic men and 40 of women have hypertension. Research shows that it puts a person at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19.

Particularly with many churches, they said, People would come here and give us a lecture on blood pressure, but no one gave us the machines to actually do it. So we created this curriculum with this mindset that the community has most of the resources it needs., He said. We are going to give them the missing things.

In the past decade, Salgado said, North Carolina’s Latino population has nearly tripled, and yet these neighborhoods are often neglected in terms of public health outreach.

You know, as a Latino, I think we have to start demanding more, He said. We have to start wondering why, if we represent the 50 of the cases, where is the accountability? Where are the resources going to ensure that these figures go down?

He said he hopes the initiative Health Promoters result in more testing, greater use of masks, and greater social distancing among Latino residents.

This article was made with the help of North Carolina News Service

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