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Latino Demographic Comprises 60% of Garfield County COVID-19 Cases


The rise of COVID-19 cases locally is affecting the Latino demographic with notable prominence. KDNK's Raleigh Burleigh has more on why this might be.

Between June 15 and June 28, Garfield County saw a spike of nearly 100 lab-confirmed and “probable” cases of COVID-19. Consistent with trends across the country, minority populations were affected at a rate that is disproportionately higher than their fraction of the overall local population.

As of Sunday, July 12, 60 percent of total cases in Garfield County have occurred among Latinos. Comparatively, Latinos represent only about 30% of the population of Garfield County, according to Voces Unidas.

Speaking with KDNK News, Garfield County Public Health Specialist Carrie Godes shared that contact tracing links recent clusters of cases to carpooling as well as work conditions. Another possible factor shared by Godes is the social warmth characteristic of Latin cultures as well as living conditions that more commonly include extended and multiple families.

Moreover, immigrant populations have been significantly more pressured to work during this public health crisis without the same governmental assistance as U.S. citizens, like unemployment benefits or receiving a stimulus check. The necessity of risking infection to maintain an income is a consequence of systemic inequality.

Still, a survey released by Voces Unidas in early July found that among 84 Latino respondents living in the area, 70 percent were without work and income as of May 22 and only 5 percent were able to continue working since the beginning of the pandemic.

Solutionsoffered by Voces Unidas include that all official public information from counties be linguistically and culturally effective and disseminated to all communities at the same time via effective channels. Additionally, all employers should distribute culturally effective information in Spanish and English to all of their workers on what to do if an employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms while highlighting their rights and protections as workers.

Raleigh Burleigh was raised in the historic floodplanes of Satank. The Carbondale Rotary Club sponsored him as a youth ambassador to Chile the year before his graduation from Roaring Fork High School. He studied International Affairs and Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder then applied those studies traveling throughout South America the following year. Returning to Carbondale thereafter, Raleigh acquired an internship with KDNK News which led to the opportunity to serve as News Director from 2017 to 2019. After another trip to South America in early 2019, Raleigh Burleigh drew deeper into the confluence as Program Director at KDNK. Raleigh now serves on KDNK's board of directors and as editor of Carbondale's weekly newspaper, The Sopris Sun.
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