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Latinos represent 31% of COVID-19 cases in Greenville County

Along with DHEC focusing on Latino outreach, a statewide non-profit is also working to get more testing sites in Spanish-speaking communities.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is concerned about a growing number of COVID-19 cases in the state's Latino community.

Wednesday, state leaders identified Greenville County as one of the hot spots for COVID-19. A closer look at the numbers shows a spike in cases among Latinos.

"Approximately 31% of cases in Greenville have been occurring in a large Latino population," said State Epidemiologist, Dr. Linda Bell.

Dr. Bell says DHEC immediately targeted their outreach efforts in Latino communities by doing interviews on Spanish-speaking radio stations and distributing more of the agency's translated educational materials.

RELATED: Resources available for SC Latinos during COVID-19 pandemic

So why a spike among the Latino population?

Rut Rivera, the Manager for PASOs Greenville, says a big factor is work, and the lack of opportunities for Latinos to do their jobs from home.

"Many of our families are on the front lines of a lot of jobs," said Rivera. "Restaurants, hotels, construction, so a lot of our families are exposed more than other families."

Among the risk factors contributing to the spread of coronavirus in the upstate is infections among family members in the same house.

Rivera says more families are living together now as a result of layoffs.

"So you're finding more multi-generational houses because when someone gets evicted, they have to live with family members," said Rivera. "That's been challenging too, because if someone turns positive [in that home], how do you keep them away from everybody else?"

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, PASOs partnered with Prisma Health to open testing sites across the state with a focus on Latino communities.

"Columbia, the Cayce area, Lexington and the Northeast, there's a high [Latino] population rate in those areas," said Agner Muñoz, the Midlands Coordinator with PASOs.

Muñoz will help translate at a COVID-19 testing site in Cayce Saturday. He says everyone should get tested, even if they aren't experiencing any symptoms of coronavirus.

"Cayce is a very high Latino populated area in the Midlands," said Muñoz. "So we're calling all of the Hispanic families in the area of Cayce to please go this Saturday to the testing site and do the test. It's free!"

This Saturday's testing site will be located at Cayce Elementary School (515 Bulldog Blvd.) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It's free and open to all.

SCDHEC also has a list of testing sites on their website.

To view this story in Spanish, along with all of News 19's Spanish coverage, visit wltx.com/en-espanol.