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News / Northwest

University of Washington study will survey Latinos in the state with COVID-19

By Santiago Ochoa, Yakima Herald-Republic
Published: February 20, 2023, 4:20pm

YAKIMA — A University of Washington study will survey the impact long COVID has had on Latino communities across the state.

UW said its Latino Center for Health will partner with SeaMar Community Health Centers, the Allen Institute for Immunology and the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic, according to a news release.

Long COVID is the result of a COVID-19 infection in which symptoms don’t seem to go away after weeks, months or even years. Victims of long COVID experience symptoms including fatigue, fever, chest pain and vertigo. Long COVID can also worsen pre-existing conditions.

Currently, UW operates one of a handful of clinics in the country and the only one in the state dedicated to study the effects of long COVID. Widespread understanding to the diseases is minimal, with many health care providers and organizations having different definitions for long COVID.

Adams, Franklin and Yakima counties in Central Washington all have majority Hispanic populations. In the Lower Valley, communities like Toppenish, Granger and Wapato are made up of 80 to 90 percent Hispanic people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows Latinos have the highest rates of long COVID in the country. Around 9 percent of Hispanic adults have reported symptoms of long COVID compared to the 7.5 percent national adult average, the CDC said.

Dr. Leo Morales, a professor of medicine at UW and co-director of the Latino Center for Health, said in the press release that it’s possible many people in Latino communities may not know they have long COVID.

“They’re feeling badly, they’re having problems with fatigue or brain fog; they’re just not doing well, but they don’t exactly know why,” Morales said. “Helping people understand what is going on and guiding them to evaluation and treatment is important.”

The survey will focus on members of the Latino community ages 18 and older who have reported a positive COVID-19 test result. The survey will also ask participants if they’d like to be involved with a clinical study being planned by UW and the Allen Institute for Immunology.