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Travis County Latino community disproportionately impacted by COVID-19; leaders cite hesitancy, access

Although the Latino community only makes up 34% of people in Travis County, they have made up for 50% of all COVID-19 deaths and 46% of hospitalizations.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Latino community in Travis County has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Throughout the pandemic, 50% of all deaths and 46% of all hospitalizations have been Latino individuals. This is a very high number when you consider only 34% of Travis County is Latino.

City and health leaders say vaccine access, educational resources and vaccine hesitancy have all contributed to the low vaccination rates among the Latino community.

“So, there's a lot of reasons why there's hesitancy among the Latinos in Austin, including a history of medical experiments as well as, for some individuals, their concerns about documentation status, as well as just having misinformation – not knowing where to go and not trusting in the vaccine,” said Austin City Councilmember Vanessa Fuentes, whose district is 70% Latino.

RELATED: 'Our people were left behind' | Low vaccination rates among Travis Co. Latinos 'not surprising' to advocates

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, 20% of all people who are fully vaccinated are Latino. More people in this community have been getting vaccinated in recent weeks, which has lowered the percentage of Latinos in the hospital with COVID-19. On Tuesday, July 27, 34% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 were Latino.

Fuentes said more still needs to be done to vaccinate people in this community, especially with the delta variant. She also believes more should have been done earlier on in the pandemic to reach these people.

“Over half of the mortality rate here in Travis County have been Latinos,” Fuentes said. “And so, we are disproportionately affected by the virus. And so, that's why I believe we have to do more, especially in our communities of color, to have targeted outreach that are culturally competent, that are boots on the ground and that are community-oriented.”

RELATED: Austin-Travis County could consider incentives to combat vaccine hesitancy

Fuentes has been advocating to add more community health workers to go out into these impacted areas. She is asking to add $1 million to the budget to fund this expansion. The approval of the budget is expected to start the week of Aug. 11. 

Austin Public Health is holding multiple mobile and pop-up vaccine clinics. They say you do not need to bring any money, insurance or documentation to get the shot.

WATCH: Vaccination rate low for Latino population in Central Texas


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