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COVID-19 disparity gaps for Latino community closing in greater-Richmond area

Published: Oct. 4, 2021 at 2:55 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 4, 2021 at 4:47 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Health workers in the greater-Richmond area say they’ve nearly eliminated COVID-19 disparities within the Latino community. It’s partly due to federal dollars, but also new organizations that have stepped up in the pandemic.

“It was the need. It was the need in the community,” said Natasha Lemus, Executive Director Waymaker Foundation.

Founded during the pandemic, Waymaker Foundation started as a way to connect the Latino community with food, but it’s become much more. It now has a place to call home in Chesterfield County.

“I’m an immigrant myself. My family, so when you understand from far back how it is from back home, coming into the United States and just having the general fear, then you understand the obstacles,” Lemus said.

The Latino community accounts for about 6 percent of the area’s population, but Latino COVID-19 cases hovered around 35 percent for months.

“It’s for all the reasons we understand about COVID. They were working front line essential jobs, they were living in homes that had lots of people that were being exposed and so we have worked really hard,” said Dr. Danny Avula, Richmond and Henrico Health Districts Executive Director.

The Richmond and Henrico Health Districts hired 18 community health workers to reach Latino, Black and refugee communities. Now, Latinos make up about 6.4 percent of new COVID cases in Richmond, 8.5 percent in Henrico.

The COVID-19 vaccination rate for Latinos in Richmond and Henrico is through the roof. Both populations have a more than 70 percent vaccination rate, surpassing white and black populations.

“The importance of trust and having people who look like the populations we’re trying to serve speak the language and understand the experience,” Dr. Avula said.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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