Latinos now account for largest share of COVID-19 cases in Southern Nevada

Screenshot of Southern Nevada Health District press conference via live stream.
Screenshot of Southern Nevada Health District press conference via live stream.

In Southern Nevada, the Hispanic population currently accounts for the largest share of COVID-19 cases of any ethnic group, according to data from the Southern Nevada Health District. 

At a press conference Wednesday Dr. Fermin Leguen, acting chief health officer of the SDNH, reported that of the 5,000-plus confirmed cases in Southern Nevada Hispanics account for about 27 percent while only making up around 32 percent of the state’s population.

By contrast, white people are 55 percent of the population in Southern Nevada, but only account for 24 percent of cases. 

Hispanics accounted for 1,374 confirmed cases, 334 have been hospitalized and 44 have died, said Leguen.

“Today in Clark County the Hispanic community has the highest number of cases among the different racial groups,” Leguen said.

The Southern Nevada Health District and local municipalities are working to expand testing access to Hispanic communities, said Diaz, urging those who suspect they might be infected with COVID-19 to get tested at one of several free test sites across the valley including the Consulate of Mexico in Las Vegas which will be administering tests Thursday and the General Consulate of El Salvador in Las Vegas on May 18 and 19.

“We are the ethnicity group right now that has the highest and that’s something that makes me nervous,” said Las Vegas City Councilwoman Olivia Diaz at the press conference.

Multigenerational homes, lack of access to healthcare, and poverty play a contributing role to the spread of the virus within the Hispanic community said Dr. Luis Medina-Garcia, an infectious disease specialist. 

For the Hispanic community “it’s important to develop a plan in those households that have people with a high risk of acquiring the disease like those who are 55 or older,” Media-Garcia said.

In Nevada, those who are 65 years and older account for eight out of 10 deaths from COVID-19, according to Leguen.

Leguen said that another factor that makes the Hispanic community more vulnerable to the virus is their role in the workforce. Hispanics in Nevada are overrepresented in low wage work with high personal interaction that can’t be done from home, like accommodation and food service, and manufacturing.

“Basically we’re talking about working in supermarkets, small stores, retail. Activities where there is a lot of interaction with other individuals,” Leguen said.

Leguen also noted that African Americans and Asian Americans have been hit by COVID-19 at a disproportionate rate in Nevada, especially in terms of severity of the disease.

Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom, who represents a district with a largely Hispanic community, urged Nevadan’s to be tested, stressing that tests at several sites are free and do not require insurance or a Social Security card, including testing at the Orleans Hotel & Casino provided by Clark County and the University Medical Center in partnership with Clinical Pathology Laboratories.

Assemblywoman Selena Torres, a member of the Hispanic Legislative Caucus and chair of the group’s Covid-19 task force, reiterated that the public should wear a face mask while out in public, following social distancing guidelines, and if sick, stay home.

The caucus has been translating information, including where to find resources available regardless of legal status, on a website. Community members can also ask questions on the site, and members of the task force will help direct them to the appropriate agency and provide support, said Torres.

Jeniffer Solis
Reporter | Jeniffer was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada where she attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas before graduating in 2017 with a B.A in Journalism and Media Studies. While at UNLV she was a senior staff writer for the student newspaper, the UNLV Scarlet and Gray Free Press, and a news reporter for KUNV 91.5 FM, covering everything from the Route 91 shooting to UNLV housing. She has also contributed to the UNLV News Center and worked as a production engineer for several KUNV broadcasts before joining the Nevada Current. She’s an Aries.