Deciphering the Gaps

A Paso a Paso vehicle loaded with produce and ready to make the delivery rounds to its local Latinx and Hispanic clients.

A Paso a Paso vehicle loaded with produce and ready to make the delivery rounds to its local Latinx and Hispanic clients. [Photo provided]

By Iridian Casarez

In an effort to address persistent disparities in COVID-19’s impacts on the local Latinx community, Humboldt County Public Health Officer Ian Hoffman recently met with LatinoNet, a network of service providers like Open Door Community Health Clinics, Paso a Paso, Promotores, the Humboldt County Office of Education and Public Health that are dedicated to advocating for a healthier Latinx community in Humboldt County.

The meeting, Hoffman’s first public discussion with the providers, focused on what can be done to address the disparities — which exist both in COVID-19 case rates and vaccination efforts and mirror statewide and national trends — in the county’s Latinx population.

In July, Humboldt County’s COVID-19 dashboard highlighted the disproportionate COVID-19 case rates in the local Latinx and Hispanic communities, noting they accounted for 22 percent of COVID-19 cases while only making up 12 percent of the population. The disparity has only grown since and as of April 9, Humboldt County Latinx residents made up 25 percent of positive COVID-19 cases to date.

County vaccine data, meanwhile, has seen a similar trend, with Latinx county residents falling behind on receiving their COVID-19 shots. According to the Public Health dashboard, only about 10 percent of Humboldt’s Latinx and Hispanic population are fully vaccinated, compared to 19 percent of the general population.

We know that there is a disproportionate effect of COVID-19 in this community and that’s why, from our standpoint in Public Health, and also personally, as a physician taking care of this community for a long time, it’s important that we address this,” Hoffman said.

Lara Weiss, a Public Health deputy branch director who also attended Friday’s meeting, said LatinoNet invited Hoffman to speak with the group and offer an update on the pandemic and Public Health’s efforts to provide equitable vaccine clinics. But Hoffman said the meeting was also an opportunity for him to hear from the providers about what barriers and gaps in care and outreach they were seeing.

Hoffman began his presentation talking about his background working with different Latinx communities in Santa Rosa and the Bay Area with organizations like La Clinica de la Raza in Oakland and Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco. He said he learned to give culturally sensitive care to members of the Latinx, Spanish-speaking community, which he said would transfer into a better understanding of how Public Health approaches culturally competent health policies.

Hoffman talked about Public Health’s rollout of COVID-19 vaccine clinics, acknowledging the signup process has been confusing at times, with a shortfall of vaccine doses, exceedingly high demand and eligibility limitations. But Hoffman said Public Health’s goal is to ensure vaccine equitability among those in the Latinx community and guarantee that any Latinx resident seeking a COVID-19 vaccine feels comfortable and confident before, during and after their appointment.

We’ve taken some steps at Public Health to make sure that when a Spanish-speaking person needs a vaccine, that they feel comfortable and confident that their needs will be met and, most importantly, [provide] Spanish-language information,” Hoffman said.

Public Health is working on a few new interventions, including sponsoring California Department of Public Health’s “Let’s Get to ImmUnity” integrated media campaign with both English and Spanish ads on local news channel 3, as well as planned mass vaccination events in more rural areas of the county with the help from Open Door.

And now that eligibility is open to all residents age 16 and older, Hoffman emphasized the importance of organizations serving the Latinx community helping to spread information on the vaccine rollout and the switch to the state’s My Turn website ( But the message Hoffman kept repeating was that the county’s Joint Information Center (441-5000) is standing by and ready to take any questions, including those in Spanish, about the vaccine and vaccination clinics.

During the meeting, however, it became clear there may be a disconnect between county Public Health and service providers looking to direct clients and patients to accurate information about COVID-19 and vaccines in Spanish.

I continue to hear that there’s not clear and correct information in Spanish that people know where to access,” LatinoNet board member Michelle Postman said, alluding to a survey by Jorge Matias, another LatinoNet board member, that found most Spanish-speaking local residents didn’t know where to go for accurate COVID-19 information. “I feel like we try and we don’t think that we’re doing that but we don’t know where the gap is, and I also know that Public Health is really stretched, there’s only so much we can do, and so I’m just curious if there’s one thing, one magical thing that can happen. Would it be like showcasing Latin[x] leaders in the community on commercials like, ‘Hey I’ve got my shot and this is working,’ or would it be to have a website? What would be the magical thing that you might spend time on to make things better if we had the capacity?”

Postman’s comments led to a discussion about the best way to get information to the Spanish-speaking Latinx community, prompting Hoffman to stress that the JIC is dedicated to putting out a clear, conscious message in English and Spanish.

All of the materials on [the JIC website, social media pages] have been vetted by Spanish speakers,” he said. “They’re scientifically accurate. They try to meet the cultural sensitivity that we talked about, as well. I would say that if we’re going to put anything out there, that’s the central message.”

Hoffman urged the groups at the meeting to use the resources on the Humboldt Health alert website and promoted by the Joint Information Center and push them out to the Spanish-speaking community. And if there’s one phone number the groups get to their clients in the coming weeks, he said it should be the JIC’s: 441-5000.

In an email sent to the Journal, Matias, in his capacity as a LatinoNet board member, said his survey found most Latinx and Hispanic residents didn’t feel they had clear and correct information in Spanish about who can and can’t obtain the COVID-19 vaccine and that they felt they didn’t have a specified place to call to find more information in their language. Many, Matias said, didn’t feel had enough information about how effective vaccines are.

Many people, Matias added, are afraid of costs, side effects and needing more medical interventions due to possible side effects, while others worry they aren’t eligible to receive the vaccine because of their documentation status. But Hoffman confirmed during the meeting that the only documentation those seeking a vaccine will need is any type of form with a name that matches the name on the appointment or a parental consent form for those 16 and 17 years old.

These, Hoffman added, are the types of questions that could be answered by the JIC.

The county JIC has been actively translating information into Spanish, including uploading social media posts in Spanish, but it seems they have yet to amplify those messages to community providers and advocacy groups in an effort to get that information to community members who may not follow county social media accounts or can’t navigate the county’s website.

Matias also told the Journal that there’s a lot of information that spreads through social media that confuses Latinx and Hispanic residents, including misinformation and conspiracy theories, which was addressed during the meeting between LatinoNet and Hoffman.

If Public Health hears of any misinformation or any disinformation spreading throughout the community, Hoffman said it would address it and correct it immediately. But he also cautioned there’s a balance between correcting and amplifying.

Hoffman then asked attendees about the types of misinformation they were hearing and someone mentioned a conspiracy theory about the COVID-19 vaccine causing future fertility issues.

That’s one of the biggest pieces of misinformation that’s got a stronghold in a lot of communities,” Hoffman said. “There’s absolutely no evidence that this vaccine has any effect on fertility.”

Nationwide, there have been reports of vaccine hesitancy in communities of color because of historical acts of genocide in healthcare settings, which was also mentioned by attendee Maria Ortega.

I feel like all of these organizations and clinics and community organizations have a responsibility to be sensitive about that (fertility) issue and not dismiss anybody, because they’re valid concerns, especially historically and worldwide there’s been actual efforts to change communities of color and their population impacts,” Ortega said. “Just be mindful about where they’re coming from.”

Hoffman agreed with Ortega about being mindful and understanding of where those concerns take root, noting the importance of recognizing the impact of historical events and communities’ lived experiences in providing culturally sensitive care.

These are difficult things to navigate exactly, and I think if those are the barriers that we’re really seeing out there, they need to be addressed, obviously,” Hoffman said. “But I’m not sure at this point exactly what all the barriers are … My hope is that, mostly, that gap is because of eligibility and lack of vaccine and that, as we open it up more broadly like we are doing right now, and we have that language ability … that we get those messages out there.”

The reasons for the gaps in vaccine administration and infection rates may become more clear as the county moves into the expanded phase of its vaccination rollout but, presently, Hoffman urged providers and their clients and patients to look to the JIC for Spanish-language information about the COVID-19 virus and vaccines.

Thank you so much for inviting me and talking with me,” Hoffman said in Spanish, wrapping up the meeting. “I hope that we can do this again soon.”

Iridian Casarez (she/her) is a staff writer with the Journal. Reach her at 442-1400, extension 317, or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter voices coalition

The Community Voices Coalition is a project funded by Humboldt Area Foundation and Wild Rivers Community Foundation to support local journalism. This story was produced by the North Coast Journal newsroom with full editorial independence and control.



  • So is the disparity in covid cases due to white racism? Just kidding, of course it is. And if there was a disparity in covid cases in the white population, would they get special treatment or would that be racist? Just kidding, of course that would be racist. And if I start a clinic, specifically geared toward the needs of “my people” and then name it “The clinic of the Race”, would that make me a Nazi? Just kidding, of course it would. Got it! Up is down, black is white, freedom is slavery. Liberalism is a mental disorder.

    • We learnt a lot about you, thanks. The first thing we all learned is you did not read the article. Next we learned your ideology is archaic and obviously you feel threatened. Lastly, we all learned we need to change away from the archaic logic you spew. People are dying is all that matters. Shame that helping a group based on demographic information is looked upon so negatively.

      • The problem is that if it’s for purposes of medical or other “important” reasons, it’s ok as long as the purpose is to give the “minority” in question “more” or “better” services than non-minorities. If, however, it is for researching crime it is strictly prohibited as “profiling” and is apparently bad. Either we treat minorities the same without distinction in all aspects of their lives or we don’t have a real and accurate picture of reality. Of course, the same must be the case for all people.

        • It’s about neither. It’s about getting what’s needed to the area needing it the most. Like when only people 50+ got the vaccine.

      • People have been dying for hundreds centuries ,that is a needed cycle. Otherwise Joes green plan ain’t going to work. People are dying, that statement made me laugh.

      • “Shame that helping a group based on demographic information is looked upon so negatively.”

        The first sentence of the article says the goal is to address the disparities in the local latinx community; maybe YOU should read the article. Helping a group based on race is called racism. Kinda like the “help” (money) being given out in Oakland and NYC based on race. Some of us are against racism. Evidently you are not. Guess we’ve “learnt” a lot about you as well, thanks.

    • All I see is people helping people. How many here on this page are doing this? If there is a disparity, it must be fixed. Irreguardless of culture.

  • What the hell is “Latinx”???

    • I’m not sure CL but I’ve been hearing it a lot lately.
      I think it means a Mexican but I’m not sure

      • So according to google, Lati is a place in Iran and Linx is off course a four legged feline species. So Latinx. But I’m not sure how being a expert in Iranian wild felines is going to help the Mexican community much in a pandemic. But I’m no expert.

    • It’s a term used to signal your virtue to other white social justice warriors.

    • Latin members of generation X

    • It is a non-gender specific name for hispanic people. It replaces ‘latino’ which carries the male gender “o”, thus would not be descriptive of, say, a group of hispanic folks who were not all male.

      • Yeah that’s why we usually use the term Hispanic when talking about Latinos and Latinas as a group.

        LatinX Is a made up term by idiotic white people that Hispanics never asked for.

      • Thanks. What kind of word need an explanation instead of definition.

      • Hispanic is a gender non-specific name for Hispanic people. “Latinx” is a contrivance rooted in that whitest of white endeavors, postmodernist gender theory.

      • In my 1911 I trust

        The suffix “o” in Spanish is used for the masculine as well as mixed groups of people. Latinos is perfectly acceptable and correct for a group of men or a group of men and women.

    • Made up and offensive to us. White liberals do their race thing to gain leverage over other white people. They don’t care about us or speak for us. I don’t even like “latin” much less latinx. As soon as I see a white person use that term I know to not trust them.

      • Nailed it. “Multiculturalism” and “diversity” are used by culture warriors as a battering ram against “whiteness,” but they don’t actually appreciate the cultural chunks that make America the tasty stew that it is. Not woke enough. So they project their own ideas of what they should be that are about as real as vegan carnitas. It’s never about building up, it’s always about tearing down.

        What is the preferred term, beyond specific national origins?

        • In my 1911 I trust

          Latinos is preferred. Or actually take the time to find out where people are from and call them by that.

      • What would you prefer to be called?

    • Joe # not my president Biden just called the man who won the Masters a Japanese boy. Biden is such a racist pig, calling a man from Japan a boy. Biden is a racist, pedophile, hair sniffing low life, who does not deserve to be president, nor does Harris deserve to be vice. Why hasn’t she gone to the border? Coward.

      • Harris TOLD Joe to send that Mayorkas (sp) guy.
        She’s busy.
        Who’s ordering who around in the WH?

        Joe and Hillary have always been racist.
        Many are finally seeing it.

        I’d love to see Candice Owens in the WH.
        A very smart woman.
        Candice and Tulsi Gabbard would be a great, truly bipartisan team.

        No racism and no war!

        The MSM, Corporations, and Politicians would hate them more than Trump…

      • Because turmup was so dam bad. All the people I know voted against turmup not for uncle Joe. And I’m thrilled about turmup being out

        • Agreed250% on ALL points!!! Thank the Powers, that turmup is GONE, at least from any real position of authority, just his “Sickophants” now, thankfully!!!!

  • Tan especial.

  • Pro tip to the County: If you want to reach a population, don’t insult their culture by referring to them with a term invented by white postmodern gender theorists and weirdos.

  • hypocrisy… corporate shills. defenders of pharmaceutical billionaires. you all act like every single commercial you hear on the air for a new drug they put out doesnt have an extremely long list of horrifying side effects.

    bout 5,800 people who have been vaccinated against coronavirus have become infected anyway, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells CNN.

    Some became seriously ill and 74 people died, the CDC said. It said 396 — 7% — of those who got infected after they were vaccinated required hospitalization.

    • 5,800 cases among 77 million vaccinated. Math is your friend.

      • im not a gambling man, especially not with my life, especially not at the behest of politicians and corporatists. you can keep trusting billionaire PR

        heres a blast from the past aka history lesson

        • Here’s 60 minutes segment on the same swine flu mass vax terror campaign.

          “Remember the swine flu scare of 1976? That was the year the U.S. government told us all that swine flu could turn out to be a killer that could spread across the nation, and Washington decided that every man, woman and child in the nation should get a shot to prevent a nation-wide outbreak, a pandemic.

          Well 46 million of us obediently took the shot, and now 4,000 Americans are claiming damages from Uncle Sam amounting to three and a half billion dollars because of what happened when they took that shot. By far the greatest number of the claims – two thirds of them are for neurological damage, or even death, allegedly triggered by the flu shot.

          We pick up the story back in 1976, when the threat posed by the swine flu virus seemed very real indeed.”

          WALLACE: Dr David Sencer, then head of the CDC – the Center of Disease Control in Atlanta – is now in private industry. He devised the swine flu program and he pushed it.

          WALLACE: You began to give flu shots to the American people in October of ’76?

          DR SENCER: October 1st.

          WALLACE: By that time, how many cases of swine flu around the world had been reported?

          DR SENCER: There had been several reported, but none confirmed. There had been cases in Australia that were reported by the press, by the news media. There were cases in –

          WALLACE: None confirmed? Did you ever uncover any other outbreaks of swine flu anywhere in the world?

          DR SENCER: No

          WALLACE: Now, nearly everyone was to receive a shot in a public health facility where a doctor might not be present, therefore it was up to the CDC to come up with some kind of official consent form giving the public all the information it needed about the swine flu shot. This form stated that the swine flu vaccine had been tested. What it didn’t say was that after those tests were completed, the scientists developed another vaccine and that it was the one given to most of the 46 million who took the shot. That vaccine was called “X-53a”. Was X-53a ever field tested?

          DR SENCER: I-I can’t say. I would have to –

          WALLACE: It wasn’t

          DR SENCER: I don’t know

          WALLACE: Well, I would think that you’re in charge of the program

          DR SENCER: 1 would have to check the records. I haven’t looked at this in some time.

          WALLACE: The information form the consent form was also supposed to warn people about any risk of serious complications following the shot. But did it?

          ROBERTS: No, I had never heard of any reactions other than a sore arm, fever, this sort of thing.

          WALLACE: Judy Roberts’ husband, Gene, also took the shot.

          GENE ROBERTS: Yes, I looked at that document, I signed it. Nothing on there said I was going to have a heart attack, or I can get Guillain Barre, which I’d never heard of.

          WALLACE: What if people from the government, from the Center for Disease Control, what if they had indeed, known about it, what would be your feeling?

          JUDY ROBERTS: They should have told us.

          WALLACE: Did anyone ever come to you and say, “You know something, fellows, there’s the possibility of neurological damage if you get into a mass immunization program?”

          DR SENCER: No

          WALLACE: No one ever did?

          DR SENCER: No

          WALLACE: Do you know Michael Hattwick?

          DR SENCER: Yes, uh-hmm.

          WALLACE: Dr Michael Hattwick directed the surveillance team for the swine flu program at the CDC. His job was to find out what possible complications could arise from taking the shot and to report his findings to those in charge. Did you know ahead of time, Dr Hattwick that there had been case reports of neurological disorders, neurological illness, apparently associated with the injection of influenza vaccine?

          DR MICHAEL HATTWICK: Absolutely

          WALLACE: You did?

          DR HATIWICK: Yes

          WALLACE: How did you know that?

          DR Hattwick: By review of the literature.

          WALLACE: So you told your superiors – the men in charge of the swine flu immunization program – about the possibility of neurological disorders?

          DR RATTWICK: Absolutely

  • “no one is forcing you” lies

    Cruise ships are now evacuating people from the island — but only those vaccinated against COVID-19.

    While the US government says it won’t introduce federally mandated vaccine passports, it does look increasingly likely that many restaurants, gyms, sports stadiums, and other venues will require such a document to prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and they may also be required for international travel.

    *ireland legislates 2 tier social systems. those who have taken an experimental shot and those who havent

    *even though the WHO has, since the begining of the year, updated info on the fact that PCR tests can not be used as a sole diagnostic tool, and that cycle threshholds should be considered we still cant get our local health technocrats to answer a goddamn question from the public. only BS softball questions and bs politican non answers.

  • I suspect a closer look at the numbers would show that at least part of the reason the discrepancy in vaccinations exists is because of the age restrictions and the fact that the averge age of LatinX community is less than the general population. It could also be due to employment factors such as more LatinX people employed in the health care industry and other “essential” occupations including farm workers and workers in grocery stores. Everything is not due to “racism”. “Racism” is when LatinX children have to attend dilapidated schools in dangerous neighborhoods and have no access to internet or computers while white childrens’ schools are modern with modern computers and high speed internet.

  • The Hispanic population in general has a very good reason to be suspicious of jabs.

    As does most of Africa and India.

    The history of being used as lab rats [by eugenicists] is not easily forgotten.

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