MAGIC VALLEY — New data from the South Central Public Health District (SCPHD) shows around 30% of confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases in the region are among Hispanic and Latino residents, district wide. In Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, and Minidoka counties, the percentage of cases is disproportionately higher for Hispanic and Latino residents.
“Nationwide, we’ve seen a disproportionate number of COVID-19 cases in Hispanic/Latino and other minority communities, and our district is no exception,” said Melody Bowyer, SCPHD Director. “Access to health care, safe and adequate housing, health education, and economic stability have long been the important social determinants of health outcomes. There is much to be learned from this crisis, and the uneven disease burden of COVID-19 on different communities will perhaps be one of the most profound lessons. It’s apparent now more than ever why we must try to bridge these gaps.”
SCPHD says there are three factors to consider when it comes to why the cases are disproportionate in those areas: average household size, clusters of cases in food processing plants, and uneasiness within the community when information about COVID-19 is shared by a governmental agency.
The health district says it is not involved in any investigation into citizenship and will not inquire about immigration status while looking into confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19.
“What we care about is taking care of our residents and controlling the spread of this virus,” said Bowyer. “That is what we are focusing on in our education, our outreach, and all of our investigation.”
In the Magic Valley, SCPHD says the average household size in the Hispanic and Latino community is much higher in those counties, so even if one person in the household is sick, it has the potential to infect more people.
SCPHD also says many of the cases have come from workers in food processing plants where employees work in much closer quarters, and where increased testing is happening.
South Central Public Health District officials say the district is working with local community leaders to continue to reach out to minority populations with factual information about COVID-19. One of the district's resources, the community information toolbox, contains a folder stocked with information in Spanish.
SCPHD continues to urge all residents to protect themselves from COVID-19, and other viruses, by:
- Keeping six feet between themselves and people outside their household
- Washing their hands well and regularly, especially immediately after returning home
- Following the Governor’s Rebound Idaho program- which includes avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people until stage 4
- Wearing a mask when they interact with people outside their home, especially in public areas like grocery stores
SCPHD is also running two hotlines for information about COVID-19. One in Spanish, at (208) 737-5965, and one in English at (208) 737-1138. These hotlines are currently running from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The district says it's working continuously on data analysis and will update case data by ethnicity and other demographic factors weekly.
*The district says demographic data unrelated to COVID-19 was taken from the latest County Health Rankings report. Learn more about how they gather data here.