Hispanic community urged to get tested as COVID-19 hits group hardest in Houston-area

New COVID-19 testing site open
New COVID-19 testing site open

HOUSTONHispanic community disproportionately impacted

Harris County’s Hispanic population is trending and not in a good way. The Hispanic/Latino community accounts for 38% percent of COVID-19 cases, according to Harris County Public Health.

White people make up 32% and Black people 21% of cases.

“In my family alone, even though they’re extended family, I have at least five people that are infected,” said Cynthia Quintero, who received a free COVID-19 test Monday.

Those statistics and stories like Quintero’s are the reason Houston’s East End was chosen for a new testing site. The mobile site opened Monday morning at HCC’s Southeast Campus located at 301 N. Drennan St. Monday morning with a long line. When the site closed Monday evening, only 238 of the 250 available tests were administered.

The challenge is getting more people within the Hispanic community to show up.

“The Hispanic people have that macho in them,” said Reynaldo Lopez, who also received a test Monday. “It’s not happening. I don’t see it happening around us. It’s not for real,”

The East End testing site will be open to the public through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Likely contributions to the spread

Cesar Espinosa executive director of FIEL Houston, a non-profit that provided immigration services, said culturally, Hispanics tend to seek medical attention late because they don’t feel sick. He said there are other barriers too.

“Our folks sometimes don’t have access to the internet,” he said. “They don’t have access to the resources or there’s a language barrier where the information, very valuable information, is given but it’s only given in English.”

Espinosa said add fear to that list for the undocumented community.

“So oftentimes we serve as the bridge saying like, ‘Hey, look, this really real. If you go get tested they’re not even going to ask you for it. They don’t even care to know your immigration status. Just please go,‘” he said.

Espinosa said while some contracted the virus through community spread and partying, he said others may have been infected on the job. A large number of Hispanic people are essential workers and could not afford to stay home when the county shut down earlier this year, Espinosa said.