Coronavirus News: Suffolk County's Hispanic communities hardest hit by COVID-19

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Friday, April 10, 2020
New outreach in hard hit Hispanic community on Long Island
Kristin Thorne details new measures being taken to protect the population of Huntington Station

HUNTINGTON, Long Island (WABC) -- Officials in Suffolk County are trying to reach residents in the county's Hispanic communities, which are now showing to have the county's largest number of coronavirus cases.

A new "hot spot" testing site has been set up at Huntington High School in order to reach residents in Huntington Station, where 614 residents have tested positive.

Two additional "hot spot" testing sites will open Friday - one in Brentwood and one in Riverhead.

Brentwood, which is primarily a Hispanic community, has the highest number of cases in Suffolk County with 1,314 positive cases. The second highest in Suffolk County is Central Islip with 697 positive cases. The population of Central Islip is also primarily Hispanic.

Suffolk County police have set up a large information sign in Spanish, which they are now circulating around the county's Hispanic neighborhoods.

The sign, which is pinned to the side of a police truck, tells people the importance of social distancing, staying indoors and washing one's hands. Suffolk police patrol vehicles are also broadcasting the message in Spanish in certain neighborhoods.

"We want to be out there educating our community members," Suffolk Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said. "We have the enforcement tools if necessary, but again, we're going to take every opportunity we can to make sure we're educating first."

Senator Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood) said there continues to be a lot of confusion within the Hispanic community on how to get tested.

"You're trying to flatten the curve, but then you have areas that you're not flattening the curve at all," she said. "And therefore, you're still going to see spikes in certain communities if we're not providing the resources that are needed."

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said officials are reaching out to churches and religious leaders to get the message of social distancing and self-isolating to the Hispanic community.

"We want to protect people's health, he said. "We want to connect people to resources that they may need."

In order to receive a test at one of the "hot spot" testing sites, you must have an appointment. Residents should call HRH Care Community Health at 845-553-8030.

Anyone who is tested at the testing sites will receive two face masks, hand sanitizer and information in both English and Spanish on how to protect oneself and others from the coronavirus.


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