KENT COUNTY, Mich — In the midst of celebrating Hispanic heritage in West Michigan, we wanted to shine light on the community that has gone through so much during the pandemic.
Throughout the pandemic, the Hispanic population has continued to be disproportionately affected by COVID-19 in West Michigan.
About 11% of the total Kent County population identifies as Hispanic.
Back in Spring of 2020, the Kent County Health Department reported the Hispanic population made up about 40% of total coronavirus cases in the county.
“It hurts me to know that the rate of infection in the Hispanic community is higher, disproportionate to the number of Hispanic people that live in our community," said Joann Hoganson, Hispanic community liason for the Kent County Health Department.
So, why is this population impacted more than others?
Hogansan said a lot of it has to do with the fact that many of them got the luxury of working from home.
“The nature of their work was they were considered essential workers, and they went to work when a lot of other people were able to stay to home for the shutdown. And that really made a difference as to exposure, " she said.
Evelyn Esparza Gonzales, serves as the executive director for Hispanic Center of Western Michigan and offered further insight.
“I think that that was a piece that was a little missing there because when we were receiving English information, almost on a daily basis, the Spanish versions were not available until a week after and by then it was really late because things have already changed a lot," she said.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said all that has changed. Both information in English and Spanish are released at the same time now.
“And so we have been able to stand up, not just translation services, but also just having community events in Spanish and working with important community leaders in the Hispanic community, that's been really important," Khaldun said.
The Hispanic Center of West Michigan is providing food services, vaccinations, mental health services and a whole lot more.
If you need these services or would like to volunteer or donate CLICK HERE to visit their website. You can also call (616) 742-0200.