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CDC report finds COVID-19 disproportionately affects Denver’s Latinx community

The CDC reports higher rates of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths among adults in Denver identifying as Hispanic or Latino.

DENVER, Colorado — A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says Denver’s Latinx population is disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

The report, published Friday morning, found the majority of Denver’s adult COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths were among Latinx adults in the city during the first seven months of the pandemic. 

Looking at data from March 6, 2020, through October 6, 2020, the CDC reports adults identifying as Hispanic or Latino represented:

  • 54.8% of positive cases
  • 61.2% of hospitalizations
  • 51.2% of deaths

The CDC said this is double the proportion of Hispanic adults in Denver (24.9%).

“I was shocked when I saw it. I was not prepared to see the types of numbers I saw,” said 9Health Expert Dr. Payal Kohli.

”You’re talking greater than half of cases, hospitalizations and deaths occurring in this community that only makes up 25% of the ‘pie'," she said. "To me, that is screaming at me that something is wrong here.”

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The CDC report points to “systemic drivers” leading to COVID exposures within this population. Examples, the CDC said, include Denver’s Latinx population with COVID reported:

  • Living in larger households and more likely to report exposures to close contacts.
  • Working in an essential industry and working while ill

“It was not surprising at all,” said Jim Garcia, when he looked at the data.

Garcia is the CEO of Clinica Tepeyac, a community health center in Denver that provides medical, behavioral and dental services to the medically underserved. He says 95% of their clients are Latinx.

“The majority of the patients we see are the frontline workers that are at much higher risk. Just the past few weeks we’ve seen the number of patients who test positive continue to increase,” he said.

In addition to household and work barriers noted by the CDC, Tepeyac said there are language barriers and economic barriers within the Latinx community, too.

RELATED: Colorado leaders taking more steps to address racial disparities during COVID-19 pandemic

“When you’re dealing with economic instability, housing instability, food insecurity, it becomes harder for that segment of our community to say, 'ok, I’m going to stay home and quarantine for two weeks.'”

Clinica Tepeyac is focusing on education and outreach. That includes a drive-through testing site at their clinic in Denver’s Globeville neighborhood.

RELATED: Clínica Tepeyac opens first drive-up COVID-19 testing site in Globeville

“That has been the push right now,” Garcia said, ”Is to make sure underserved neighborhoods have access to testing and hopefully access to vaccine as it becomes available here soon.”