Disproportionate COVID-19 numbers for Lowcountry Hispanic community

VIDEO: Disproportionate COVID-19 numbers for Lowcountry Hispanic community

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Doctors at Trident Health are starting to see an impact of COVID-19 within the Hispanic community. They’re now providing inpatient care for patients testing positive in that community more so than any other ethnic group in the tri-county area.

According to the latest U.S. Census, Hispanics/Latinos make up 6 percent of the population in South Carolina. Recent data from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control shows that the Hispanic community accounts for 13% of reported COVID-19 cases.

Dr. Lee Biggs, the Chief Medical Officer at Trident Health, says they are seeing a different situation at their hospitals than MUSC or Roper St. Francis.

“COVID of April was a disease described as affecting Caucasians but disproportionately African-Americans was the initial focus ,” Biggs said. “Our experience at Trident Health looking at our numbers dating back to March is 40 percent of admitted inpatients with COVID-19 have been from our Hispanic community around our facilities.”

The Charleston Hispanic Association is an organization that focuses on educating the Hispanic community and connecting them with local businesses and services.

Representatives for the organization say that at first, the community did not take the pandemic as seriously. As the numbers continue to rise, they say the Hispanic community is trying to get information but it’s not as easily accessible.

“Unfortunately the Latino population doesn’t have the same resources or benefits, so we have to take care of ourselves even more,” said Laura Guayambuco, the event Coordinator for the group. “[We need to] follow the rules and educate ourselves more.”

Guayambuco says the need to go out and work can also play a factor in the rise of cases.

At Trident Health, they've started collaborating with Hispanic organizations and outlets to get the word out.

"I think we're tremendously undervaluing the value of education or public health education as we go through this pandemic," Dr. Biggs said. "The PPE works and we've got really good data that says it works. If these strategies are working at hospitals they will work across the community in every setting possible."

The Charleston Hispanic Association will have free COVID-19 testing for the Hispanic community on Wednesday, July 1 at Trident United Way from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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