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Kent County Health Department finds COVID-19 infections are highest among communities of color

National Urban League

In Kent County, over 34% of those infected with COVID19 are Latinx, even though they only make up 10% of the population and the same is true for African Americans  who make up 20% of those infected but only make up 10% of the population. Brian Hartl is the supervising epidemiologist at the Kent County Health Department and he says there is also a disproportionate number of Asian people infected with the virus.

“About 9% of our cases has been in the Asian population and they make up only 2% of our population here in Kent County. We are seeing a large number of cases in our racial and ethnic populations.”

Hartl says the majority of COVID-19 deaths in the county have been among white people, and he doesn’t believe the infection rates locally are related to underlying medical conditions but more about social and economic elements.

“Housing is a big one…there is often times multigenerational families living in houses in small quarters and so that’s not very easy to limit or prevent transmission within those houses. Economics in terms of jobs is also a big deal… a lot of these people are essential workers and they are part of our workforce that produces food for us in our communities.”

Hartl says the county is focusing on target testing in communities that may not otherwise have access to testing sites.