Health Officials Struggle To Break Through To Hispanic Community In Forsyth County
Forsyth County public health officials are struggling to address the growing disparity of COVID-19 cases in the Hispanic population. The response so far is as varied as the community itself.
For some, there’s fear at the first signs of cough, which floods the Spanish only COVID-19 hotline with tearful questions. For others, there is complete indifference, and those who believe coronavirus stories are political, rumor, and not to be trusted.
Public health educator Reina Rodriguez estimates that roughly 40 percent of the people she encounters do not take advantage of the health resources available, resorting instead to home remedies.
Many of the folks she talks to are undocumented.
“They are afraid,” says Rodriguez. “They think that they can’t be in any problems or somebody can call the officers of something. I hear some people say, ‘I’m feeling sick, but I’m afraid to call this number because they can report me.’”
Roughly 13 percent of Forsyth County’s population is Hispanic, and yet they make up more than half of the county’s COVID-19 cases. Rodriguez says they’ll continue to help connect families to proper care. She adds that public health officials use first names only, and do not request any legal documentation.
When asked what message she’d like to send to the Hispanic community, Rodriguez is quick to answer.
“Don’t be afraid,” she says. “We are here to help you. Please follow our recommendations, and call us.”
The health department has created a hotline for Spanish-speaking community members. Someone is available to take questions, in English and in Spanish, at 336-778-6905 and 336-422-8873.