Multnomah County health officials have the info, but they need to talk with “community leaders” before releasing it.
A majority of coronavirus infections from Multnomah County’s record-breaking week reportedly spread among friends and family, prompting county health officials Monday to encourage the use of face coverings in social settings.
Infections within immigrant and refugee communities drove some portion of the spike, officials said.
But county officials declined to quantify how many of the nearly 300 new infections were linked to so-called social clusters.
Nor would they identify the specific immigrant and refugee groups impacted, saying more information will be released after officials speak with community leaders for at least a half-dozen populations.
The continued spread among vulnerable communities highlights the yawning gap of infections within Multnomah County, where people of color have accounted for nearly 2 ½ times more infections than whites over the past seven weeks.
The lack of transparency from Oregon’s public health officials, from the Oregon Health Authority on down, is reprehensible. People cannot take proper precautions if they are not made aware of the dangers.
I assume this is sort of a well-meaning racism—declining to identify impacted groups doesn’t help the general public and clearly doesn’t help the group members themselves. Do county public health officials think they’re being sensitive? Are they worried about inflaming racial tensions? I grasp at straws to understand the motivation.
For example, the Hispanic community has an absolute epidemic going on with COVID-19 infections. The OHA web site makes a mash of race/ethnicity so it’s hard to give precise figures, but it looks like 40-50% of cases—and incredibly outsized number—are Hispanic/Latino. Since as a group they populate many of the high risk (and, ahem, low wage) jobs, they are particularly at risk. Who is helped by keeping this information “on the down low”? Why do “community leaders” need a briefing prior to more information being released?
Whatever the reason, it should be a good one. The public relies on these health officials for information. Getting information to the public is, or should be, a cornerstone of their mission.