MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Hispanics and Latinos are a growing part of Shelby County’s community, but health officials say they’re also among the most underserved populations when it comes to COVID-19 testing.
The Shelby County Health Department is working to change that by hosting a pair of free COVID-19 testing events this weekend to reach out to the Hispanic/Latino community.
The Catholic Church of the Ascension (Iglesia Ascension) is where many Hispanics and Latinos in Shelby County worship.
On Saturday, it became a COVID-19 testing site.
The Shelby County Health Department teamed up with local Catholic leaders and Latino Memphis to provide the testing free of charge.
While anyone age 13 and older could get tested, officials hoped to reach Hispanics and Latinos in particular.
“We are very aware that they have been underserved in terms of this virus but they’ve also been very hard hit in terms of the virus,” said Chip Washington, public information officer for COVID-19 for the Shelby County Health Department.
While Hispanics and Latinos account for about seven percent of the county’s population, the health departments says they account for about 20 percent of all COVID-19 cases.
John Burnett says his wife works at the church and he understands why many Hispanics and Latinos may be reluctant to get tested.
“There are a lot of Hispanics who are very hesitant about having conversations or reactions with people in government,” he said.
But the health department says no personal information will be shared with government agencies outside the health department and the state health department.
They say the focus is making sure ALL members of the community are safe and healthy and that starts with getting testing.
The Health Department will host another free COVID-19 testing event on Sunday at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, which is located at Jefferson and Cleveland in Memphis.