Central Health Says Latinx Patients Test Positive For COVID-19 At A Rate 3 Times Higher Than Others

May 14, 2020
Originally published on May 15, 2020 7:31 am

Latinx patients at Central Health's drive-thru testing sites are testing positive for COVID-19 three times more often than non-Latinx patients, the county-backed health agency said Thursday.

It added that 1 in 5 patients overall have tested positive in the last two weeks at sites run by its health service provider, CommUnityCare.

Test results from the seven low-barrier testing sites across the Austin area represent roughly a sixth of overall COVID-19 tests in Travis County, Central Health said. But so far, results from its sites show Latinx patients are disproportionately represented.

Of the nearly 3,200 tests with confirmed results, 1,679 patients identified as Latinx, with 412 testing positive for the new coronavirus. Of the 1,120 non-Latinx patients, 82 tested positive; patients who didn't identify their ethnicity had a positivity rate of 11%. Central Health is awaiting results for another 403 tests.

The trend aligns with one outlined earlier this week by Austin area health officials, who told county leaders in a briefing that data suggested Latinx COVID-19 patients were hospitalized for the disease at a disproportionate rate.

Central Health President and CEO Mike Geeslin said the overrepresentation of the Latinx community in positive tests is emblematic of COVID-19's impact on communities of color writ large, saying in a statement that the "pandemic has placed communities of color at even greater risk" comparatively.

Latinx Austinites represent 34% of the population, but account for 64% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients, according to data from Austin Public Health through April 29. Central Health said the agency has seen a decline in positive test results among African Americans since March 29.

While Central Health saw a dip in positive tests last week, the agency said it was concerned that it has "consistently seen a week-over-week increase in positive cases" at its drive-thru sites and its clinics.

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