For Latinos and COVID-19, Doctors are seeing an ‘Alarming’ Disparity

Rafael Castillo and Yanet Gonzalez, with their children, Jorge, 14, and Emily, 9. Both parents had the coronavirus.

Dr. Eva Galvez works as a family physician for a network of clinics in northwestern Oregon, where low-income patients have been streaming in for nasal swabs over the past several weeks to test for the coronavirus.

Dr. Galvez was dumbfounded by the results. Latinos, about half of those screened, were 20 times as likely as other patients to have the virus.

“The disparity really alarmed me,” said Dr. Galvez, who began trying to understand what could account for the difference.

It is a question that epidemiologists around the country are examining as more and more evidence emerges that the coronavirus is impacting Latinos, and some other groups, including African-Americans, with particular force.

Oregon is one of many states where Latinos are showing a disproportionate level of impact, and the effects are seen among both immigrants and Latinos from multigenerational American families.