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Spike in Hispanic Covid-19 cases in Knox County, statewide

Tennessee's Hispanic community accounts for 20% of the state's COVID-19 cases, but only 5% of the population.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — On Saturday, Knox County saw 16 new COVID-19 cases.

They were all Hispanic people.

At 117 cases, more than a quarter of Knox County cases are in the Hispanic community.

That group only accounts for about 4.5 percent of Knox County's total population.

Statewide, Hispanic people make up 20 percent of COVID-19 cases, but only about 5 percent of Tennessee's population.

"It's not because we don't care. It's not because we're not wearing a mask. There are so many other reasons as to why it is more challenging for this community, and the barriers are greater for us," said Claudia Caballero, CEO of Centro Hispano.

RELATED: Casos de hispanos con coronavirus se incrementa en Tennessee

RELATED: Hispanic cases with coronavirus on the rise in Tennessee

That group is working to make sure Hispanic people in Knox and surrounding counties are getting the COVID-19 information they need.

"More info graphics, more digestible information," said Caballero.

Centro Hispano is the go-to resource for any information or help the Knox County Hispanic community may want or need.

Caballero said her team is spearheading the share of Covid-19 information. They're putting together videos seen by thousands that translate information from the Knox County Health Department into more than just Spanish.

Actualizaciones de Centro 26 de mayo

Información sobre ayuda alimentaria, pruebas de COVID, prevención de COVID, recursos en condados adjacentes, fase 2 de reapertura, y el summer camp para niños.

Posted by Centro Hispano on Tuesday, May 26, 2020

"We come from over 20 different countries," she said. "We speak dozens and dozens of different languages, especially indigenous languages and they're not written languages."

Centro Hispano is always looking for translators to help share messages to these communities with specific language barriers.

Caballero said here are several cultural reasons that may explain why the Hispanic case count is higher.

RELATED: Knox County halts distribution of state-bought masks over anti-microbial coating concerns

She said Latino and Latina people often work in jobs that can't be done from home and may live in close quarters with lots of people. 

Both of those situations can mean a fast spread of germs.

"Low income is a barrier across the country," said Caballero. "We are seeing disproportionate cases of COVID-19 in poorer families because people have to work."

Centro Hispano is working with the Knox County Health Department to find ways to best get resources to the Hispanic communities.

Caballero said Centro Hispano has taken over food delivery to quarantined Hispanic people who test positive for COVID-19.

They act as translators and resources to get quarantined Hispanic patients what they need.

RELATED: 23,554 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Tennessee, including 15,564 recoveries & 367 deaths

Caballero said the biggest struggle going forward will be helping people rebuild their lives after the economic impact of the virus.

Centro Hispano set up a relief fund for people who need assistance, and they've already helped over 100 people.

"We can't keep up with all the requests. Rent, utilities, connecting people to the food services," she said.

They will continue to work with local food banks and health agencies to get people the help they need.

"There's no perfect answer," said Caballero. "There's no perfect solution. It's just continuously asking ourselves the question, who are we leaving out and how can we reach them better?"