Pittsboro, NC – Last week, Governor Roy Cooper issued an executive order addressing the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, which noted that “COVID-19 disproportionately affects communities of color for several reasons, including existing social, environmental, and health inequities.” These disparities in the number of confirmed cases are seen across the state and country, as well as in Chatham County.
The Chatham County COVID-19 dashboard, located at chathamnc.org/coronavirus, now includes demographic data (age, gender, race and ethnicity) of confirmed COVID-19 cases in order to raise awareness around COVID-19’s impact on different populations within the Chatham community, consider the underlying issues that put some members of the community at higher risk of being exposed to the virus, and drive collective action to slow the spread of the virus.
“We have been working to add this information to our COVID-19 dashboard for quite some time, but it requires due diligence to ensure that privacy is protected for individuals who have tested positive,” said Chatham County Interim Public Health Director Mike Zelek. “The number of confirmed cases is now at a level where releasing this information cannot inadvertently identify any individual cases.”
Looking at the data presented, Hispanic/Latinx residents have experienced a disproportionate number of confirmed cases to date in Chatham County. The state also releases a report of COVID-19 cases in congregate living settings, which shows that the overwhelming majority of COVID-19 deaths in Chatham County have occurred among residents of long-term care facilities.
“We remain concerned about the impact COVID-19 is having in Chatham County, and especially among the Latinx population and in long-term care facilities,” added Zelek. “This is why, in addition to raising awareness about the virus and ways to reduce its spread across the Chatham community as a whole, we have long focused targeted response strategies in these communities. These efforts include providing guidance to essential employers and congregate living settings where individuals are more likely to come into close contact with others; encouraging employers to provide adequate paid sick leave; working with our community partners to increase testing capacity; sharing bilingual information about COVID-19 through many channels like stores, churches, community organizations, billboards, virtual meetings, and online; and distributing face coverings.”
It is important to consider disparities in COVID-19’s impact among different populations when planning and implementing prevention and response strategies. At the same time, this information should not be seen as grounds for fear or stigma. Everyone is at risk for becoming infected with this virus.
The Chatham County community must remain vigilant in slowing the spread of COVID-19, as highlighted by the concerning increases statewide in the number of confirmed cases of the virus. The Chatham County Public Health Department continues to encourage everyone to practice the 3 Ws if they leave home: wear a face covering, wait six feet apart and avoid close contact, and wash hands often.
Additional COVID-19 information and resources can be found at www.chathamnc.org/coronavirus.
The Chatham County COVID-19 dashboard is updated each Friday by 5 p.m. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services updates its dashboard daily. Please note that both dashboards show the number of confirmed cases, which reflect testing conducted to date. The actual number of cases, including those that have not been confirmed through testing, is higher and its demographic makeup may be different than that of confirmed cases.