OHA: Language, access to COVID-19 testing barriers for some Oregonians

Oregon

Oregon lawmakers passed a law last year requiring health care workers to collect REALD information during health care visits related to COVID-19. Oregon health care workers began collecting data last October. (KOIN)

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — Access to COVID-19 testing may be disproportionately harder for Hispanic and Latinx Oregonians to come by, according to a recent report released by the Oregon Health Authority.

The report on COVID-19 race, ethnicity, language and disability (REALD) data highlights the impact of the disease on specific racial and ethnic groups, as well as challenges faced by those with language, disability and health access barriers, OHA officials said Friday.

Oregon lawmakers passed a law last year requiring health care workers to collect REALD information during health care visits related to COVID-19. Oregon health care workers began collecting data last October.

Hispanic and Latinx Oregonians made up 28.4% of COVID-19 cases, according to the report while making up only 9.8% of health care encounters. Health care encounters can include both negative and positive COVID-19 tests. OHA officials believe the disparity in the data may be evidence that access to testing is insufficient for these groups.

Language barriers may also continue to be a problem along the line as well. Patients requested more than 100 non-English languages, according to the report.

Nearly 30% of cases and 25% of health care encounters involved patients who either did not speak English well or at all.

Officials said future iterations of the report will break down the REALD data by county to draw a more complete picture.

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