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Community Conversation: Survey details the impact of COVID-19 on the Hispanic community in Charlotte area

More than 400 people participated in the anonymous survey.
Published: Oct. 1, 2021 at 6:56 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Survey results are in concerning the Impact of COVID-19 on Latino communities in the Greater Charlotte area. Camino Center conducted the survey to determine the impact COVID-19 had on the local Hispanic community.

More than 400 people participated in the anonymous survey. The participants included 32% US Citizens, 20% undocumented immigrants, and 17% residents.

The Hispanic community makes up about 15% of the population in Mecklenburg County. The Camino Center is a place that offers tools needed to help Hispanics live healthy lives.

“From that survey,” Camino Research Institute Director Dr. Keri Revens said. “We saw that people had a hard time being able to afford food and medication - especially at the beginning and the onset of the pandemic. So we have a food pantry here where we are able to help people get food if they need it. We also did some medication giveaways.”

People in the Hispanic community saw what the pandemic did firsthand to their neighbors. 88% of the people who took the survey reported the pandemic caused financial stress. 71% reported experience difficulty getting food.

Dr. Luis Valles volunteered to help deliver food to those in need.

“It was discouraging in a way,” Camino Volunteer Dr. Luis Valles said. “But at the same time, I felt good that I was able to help these people. There were lines of cars when the food was being distributed at the beginning. The church was seeing about 100 families a week - giving food to people - it then came up to 1000 a week.”

25% of the people survey tested positive for COVID and 59% say somebody in their family tested positive for COVID.

“From what we see from our empirical data as well as our qualitative data,” Revens said. “Is that Latinos in this community were disproportionately and very heavily impacted by the virus. Majority of them reported somebody in their household lost their job and that their overall household income decreased as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic.”

Since the Hispanic community experienced pain because of COVID-19 - the question was asked would they take the vaccine.

“We actually asked the question directly about how likely are you to get the COVID 19 vaccine,” Revens said. “And more than 60% of them said they were likely to get it, but we asked a follow-up question - do you feel there were any barriers that prevent you from getting the vaccine, and what we saw was a lack of trust in the vaccine.”

The lack of trust was birthed from misinformation.

“There was this theme of misunderstanding or misinformation,” Revens said. “And not really knowing what to trust about the information and the information is not always available in Spanish - so it makes it difficult for them to become educated and to make informed decisions about themselves and their families.”

Recent Census survey data show the Latino population is growing in North Carolina. It reached more than one million.

Valles says he wished more signage was present throughout the county to show the Hispanic community they are inclusive. I asked did he see signs in Spanish to inform the community about COVID-19 and the vaccine.

“I don’t remember,” he said. “Cause I do go to uptown during the pandemic and I don’t recall seeing that information there - maybe I missed it but I don’t recall.”

Camino says there is evidence that the county is doing its best to connect with the Hispanic Community.

“I believe they are taking strides towards doing that,” Revens said. “Mecklenburg County Health did reach out to Camino and we partnered with them as well to offer vaccine clinics here. So I believe other organizations - Atrium and Novant as well are recognizing Camino as a place that Latinos - especially immigrants trust.”

Moving forward Valles wants to see more communication coming from county leaders to help Hispanics understand what’s going on.

Revens believes information and programs established to help people in the Hispanic community thrive in Mecklenburg county. Revens says there is another survey that will be conducted to ask Hispanics about medical, behavioral, educational, and employment assistance.

Something like this has not been done in the county since 2006.

“That way when we develop programs and services,” Revens said. “We can ensure they are evidence-based and they are based on what the community members themselves have actually spoken out and said here’s what we need - here’s what we have and here’s where the gaps are.”

To read the report click here

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