Free coronavirus testing events held for Latino community

By Meerah Powell (OPB)
Sept. 29, 2020 9:37 p.m.

As people in Latino and Hispanic communities continue to be disproportionately affected by COVID-19, local groups are partnering to hold free testing events this week.

Latino Network is working in partnership with agencies and organizations including the Oregon Health Authority and Multnomah County Health Department to put on the free events.

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“Many of our community workers are essential frontline workers. They did not have the option of staying home or working virtually,” Veronica Leonard, director of education and wellness with Latino Network, said. “So that has put a lot of people in a situation where they’re exposed at a much higher rate than the general population.”

According to the most recent data from the Portland metro area’s COVID-19 data dashboard, which encompasses Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington and Yamhill counties, Hispanic and Latino people make up 36% of total COVID-19 cases for the region, even though they make up only 11% of the population.

Hispanic and Latino communities proportionately see the most coronavirus cases secondary only to white people, who make up 38% of COVID-19 cases while making up 72% of the regional population.

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Leonard said other concerns such as gentrification and high cost of living has caused many people in the Latino community to live in one- or two-bedroom apartments with multi-generational families, which has also aided to the spread of coronavirus.

“If one person does test positive to COVID and needs to stay at home, it’s really hard for them to be isolated from everyone else,” Leonard said. “That’s also driving some of these numbers.”

She said there also just hasn’t been widespread availability to testing for the community.

The free testing events Latino Network are hosting are this Thursday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Latino Network’s Rockwood Office in Southeast Portland. Pre-registration is required.

Leonard said the testing event will take a total of 300 people, with 150 people getting tested each day.

The free testing events are open to everyone in the community, regardless of age or immigration status.

Leonard said all information will be kept confidential. People’s names, addresses and contact information will be shared with Multnomah County Public Health, but only for contact tracing purposes. No information will be shared with immigration officials or law enforcement.

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