By Miriam Jordan and
Dr. Eva Galvez works as a family physician for a network of clinics in northwestern Oregon, where low-income patients have been streaming in for nasal swabs over the past several weeks to test for the coronavirus. Dr. Galvez was dumbfounded by the results. Latinos, about half of those screened, were 20 times as likely as other patients to have the virus.
“The disparity really alarmed me,” said Dr. Galvez, who began trying to understand what could account for the difference.
It is a question that epidemiologists around the country are examining as more and more evidence emerges that the coronavirus is impacting Latinos, and some other groups, including African-Americans, with particular force. Oregon is one of many states where Latinos are showing a disproportionate level of impact, and the effects are seen among both immigrants and Latinos from multigenerational American families.
In Iowa, Latinos account for more than 20 percent of coronavirus cases though they are only 6 percent of the population. Latinos in Washington State make up 13 percent of the population but 31 percent of cases. In Florida, they are just over a quarter of the population but account for two of every five virus cases where ethnicity is known.
“Not all Latinos are created equal,” said Daniel López-Cevallos, professor of Latino and health equity studies at Oregon State University. More Latinos in states with established communities, he said, are likely to have middle-class jobs or the sort of wealth that could help tide them over through the pandemic without having to work outside the home.
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