Seminole County reports higher number of COVID-19 cases in Hispanic community, noting disparity as leaders prepare for reopening

36% of all COVID-19 cases in Seminole County affected Hispanic residents

Seminole County doctor doubted coronavirus would be bad then he spent weeks on the front lines
Seminole County doctor doubted coronavirus would be bad then he spent weeks on the front lines

SEMINOLE COUNTY, FLA. – As health officials continue to collect and analyze coronavirus tests from residents, data seems to point to a growing health care disparity in the Seminole County community, threatening to leave some behind as the county gears up to reopen.

During a news conference Monday, Seminole County leaders said that as they continue to test residents, there are emerging patterns among those who test positive for coronavirus.

Donna Walsh, Seminole County Department of Health officer, said Monday that out of all the individuals with confirmed COVID-19 infections in the county, 53% of those individuals are female and 47% are male.

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“In looking at health disparities, as reported before, the cases that are being reported positive to us thus far consist of 12% African-American or black (individuals), and 71% white, and 36% Hispanic (individuals),” Walsh said. “The demographics in Seminole County include, normally, 12% African Americans, however the Hispanic population makes up 22% of the county, so we are seeing a disparity is the Hispanic population.”

Seminole County Commissioner Jay Zembower said the county is working to combat this through pop-up coronavirus testing sites, aimed at providing care to individuals in under served communities.

[INTERACTIVE MAP: Here’s where to get your drive-thru coronavirus test]

While most sites require that a patient fits certain criteria before being tested -- whether they have symptoms, came in contact with a COVID-19 patient or are at risk due to age or health concerns -- these pop-up locations will be open to anyone who’d like a test.

Dates and locations of these pop-up testing sites are as follows:

  • Monday, April 27- Bookertown Community Center, 4631 Gilbert St., Sanford
  • Tuesday, April 28- Georgetown, Historic Sanford Stadium, 1201 Mellonville Ave., Sanford
  • Wednesday, April 29- Jamestown, Rockhill Missionary Baptist Church, 3036 Weston St., Oviedo
  • Thursday, April 30- Lincoln Heights, Journeys Academy, 1722 West Airport Boulevard, Sanford

Each location will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. An appointment isn’t necessary but residents must present an I.D. in order to be tested. Although the test is free, anyone with insurance should bring their card.

[RELATED - No symptoms necessary: Pop-up coronavirus testing sites coming to Seminole County]

Zembower said Monday that county leaders had also been discussing re-opening measures, but that no actions on the county level can be put into place until executive direction is released by Gov. Ron DeSantis. Zembower added that a re-opening task force had been created for the county with a primary focus of getting plans in place for when that guidance is issued from the state’s capitol.

“The group is comprised of the county attorney, the county chairman, the county manager, deputy county manager for economic development, deputy county manager for operations, the fire chief of Seminole County, as well as our health department health officer, our medical director and the sheriff of the county,” Zembower said.

The commissioner also encouraged all business owners in the county to begin thinking about what operations would look like with some heightened health and safety precautions in place.

“I would ask our business community to start looking at what distancing looks like for your business,” Zembower said. “Everybody’s business is different, whether you’re in retail, whether you’re in manufacturing, whether you’re in a service providing environment, you would be well served to look at what keeping a six-foot distance from your patrons, as well as your employees, and what that may look like once things get reopened.”

DeSantis has maintained he’s in no rush to reopen Florida and that his task force has been in discussions about reopening some parts of the economy. The Task Force to Re-open Florida is welcoming feedback from residents before it makes that final recommendation to the governor, creating a public comment submission portal. The portal is open to all Floridians wishing to submit public feedback.

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About the Author:

Erin began her career at News 6 as an assignment editor, then became a show producer. She is now a digital storyteller as part of the Click Orlando team.