ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – St. Louis County health officials have been crunching the coronavirus numbers and it does not look good for the Hispanic population in the community.
“If there’s is a language barrier, that’s going to affect everybody at the end of the day, especially during a pandemic,” said Lourdes Trevino Bailon, the cofounder of STL Juntos, a website to keep Hispanics informed.
Bailon said local Hispanics trust her website and Facebook page for information in their native language. St. Louis County Executive Sam Page had news Wednesday that will be posted on the website. Hispanics are being disproportionately slammed by COVID-19.
“Of all the people tested positive in St. Louis County, 9 to 15 percent are Hispanic but only 2.8 percent of our St. Louis residents are Hispanic,” Bailon said.
Health officials believes this happens because many Hispanic people work in service related industries on the front line of the pandemic; some live with extended large families; and the language barrier prevents residents from getting access to help.
“Our Hispanic residents are 3 to 5 time more likely to test positive for COVID-19,” Page said.
The county executive announced Spanish speaking residents can now get a COVID-19 test without a photo ID.
“When the county changes that, it’s huge,” Bailon said.
She plans to spread the word on the web site to encourage more people to take advantage of the free test. Page said the county has secured a hotel for any Hispanic person who needs to isolate because of infection but does not have the money.
“No one should be left behind,” Page said.
Leaders in the Hispanic community will be working with people to get tested and the county will be translating the test request form into Spanish.