The Curious Case of Latinos and Covid-19

Martinez (left) when she was sick with coronavirus in March. On the right, she is posing with her 17-year old son Mario who tested positive for Covid-19. Credit: Wendy Lizette Martinez


The curious case of Latinos and Covid-19

Covid-19 cases are showing up among Latinos and people of color at higher rates across the United States.

Initial data from the Washington State Department of Health shows Latinos account for nearly 30% of the cases, even though they make up a much smaller share of the state’s population.

Here is what experts believe might be happening.

Wendy Lizette Martinez and her son wound up at the hospital on March 13. They had been with sick with the tell tale-symptoms of coronavirus: a high fever and dry cough.

Martinez’s son Mario has epilepsy, and Martinez knew that a fever could bring on a seizure, so they went to Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue.

By the following Monday, Mario, her 17-year old, had tested positive for Covid-19.

Doctors didn’t test her, but they told Martinez to assume she was positive too. She isolated in her home from her husband and four other children in their Renton home.

In Spanish, Martinez said she felt like she couldn’t get enough oxygen. She would start praying, ‘Please God, let me get through this,’ and there were moments where her fear rooted deeper — would she get better?

“Se me iva el oxigeno y yo decía, ‘Dios mío, dios mío, ojalá pueda salir de esto, por favor.’ Y si hubo momentos donde ya hasta empece a sentir miedo.”

She felt sick with the virus for over a week and eventually went back to the hospital when she got worse. Doctors took X-rays that showed her lungs were damaged, put her on an IV drip to re-hydrate her, and sent her home.

Public health also conducted contact tracing, trying to prevent the spread to others around the family.

But Martinez doesn’t know how they picked up the virus. Was it through her nanny job? Or at her son’s school?

Martinez’s experience is similar to many people who got sick in the early days of coronavirus.

Still over time, the virus would take a heavier toll on communities of color in Seattle and across the state.




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