The Hispanic population of Tarrant County is being hit especially hard by COVID-19, according to information on patients compiled by JPS Health Network.
As of July 1, JPS has tended to 1,171 people who have tested positive for the virus. Of that total, 551 – about 47 percent -- of the patients are Hispanic. A total of 309 patients – about 26 percent -- are African American while 214 -- about 18 percent -- are Caucasian. Compare that to data on all JPS patients, where just 36% identify as Hispanic or Latino.
Physicians believe social and work habits are causing Hispanics to be in danger of exposure more than other groups and they’re reminding everyone to do everything they can to social distance, protect themselves with masks and avoid being in public any more than absolutely necessary.
“The Hispanic population tends to be very work centered, very work-oriented,” said Dr. Victor Olivas who grew up in the Hispanic community of Fort Worth. “We often work in places that tend to be essential and I think that’s one big reason why we have been more exposed to the virus. Also, we tend to be kind of social. We stick together in clusters of family and friends. I have to assume, despite the warnings about COVID-19, some people are still getting together for social events.”
One of the areas of JPS where positive tests have been most frequent has been in Labor and Delivery, Olivas said. Several patients who tested positive have traced the source of their infection back to baby showers. Birthday parties, funerals and other social gatherings of more than 10 people make it easy for Covid-19 to spread.
JPS has admitted 99 COVID-19 patients into its Intensive Care Unit over the past four months. Of them, 50.5 percent have been Hispanic, 21.2 percent have been African-American and 17.2 percent have been Caucasian. Additionally, 67 patients have required breathing assistance from a ventilator. Of them, 49.3 percent have been Hispanic, 20.9 percent have been African-American and 19.4 percent have been Caucasian.
JPS has had 35 COVID-19 deaths. Of that total, 13 – 37.1 percent – have been Hispanic, 10 – 28.6 percent – have been Caucasian and eight – 22.9 percent – have been African American.
“Our Hispanic or Latinx population is certainly over-represented in the cases that we are seeing,” said Dr. G. Robert Stephenson, Vice President and Chief Quality Officer at JPS. “We realize that a lot of the people in the community are engaged in work that is considered to be essential where social distancing is difficult. Family and community are incredibly important. It’s a source of strength, but it creates some additional challenges in keeping that group safe. Wear a mask. Keep your hands clean, washing them every time you touch a surface you can’t be absolutely sure is clean. Avoid large gatherings because they bring a significant amount of risk.”
Olivas urged members of the Hispanic community and other groups to make a few temporary sacrifices to protect the family members and friends they value so much.
“There are other ways to get together these days that should be taken advantage of,” Olivas said. “Video conferencing lets us get together while staying safely apart, and don’t forget about the good old telephone. Getting together is important. But, right now, the most important thing is staying safe.”