With North Carolina fast approaching 100,000 lab confirmed cases of COVID-19, state health officials are stepping up testing for historically marginalized communities.
Governor Cooper’s office announced Thursday the launching of a new website to help Spanish-speaking North Carolinians determine if they should consider being tested for COVID-19. Additional online tools will help those individuals monitor their symptoms if they have tested positive for the virus or been exposed to it.
As of mid-July, the Latinx/Hispanic population represents 44 percent of North Carolina’s positive cases (where the ethnicity is known) yet they make-up 9 percent of the state’s population.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is also offering a series of community testing events where people can get tested for the coronavirus for free and without an appointment or a doctor’s order.
Making testing more accessible is essential for people living or working in high-risk settings such as long-term facilities, construction sites, correctional facilities and food processing plants.
On Thursday, state health officials fielded concerns that some immigrants with COVID-like symptoms were not being treated with the level of care at hospitals as those with health insurance.
“Our hospitals are already by law required to treat anyone who walks through their doors. They cannot be asking about either insurance status or immigration status in order to treat someone who is right in front of them,” reminded DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen.
Dr. Viviana Martinez-Bianchi, a NCDHHS Advisor, agreed more should be done to address cultural sensitivities during this pandemic as she has heard similar complaints.
“It is extremely important we talk together and understand where these situations are happening. Organizations should not put already struggling families, already fearful about what is happening with their health, [in a position] to explain that they are sick enough to be in the hospital,” said Martinez-Bianchi.
Cohen pledged her office would follow up on those concerns.
There are 18 community events scheduled this Friday with six slated for Saturday and more next week.
Click here to find the latest listing of community testing sites.