U.S. residents who don’t speak English are much more likely to test positive for coronavirus, a new study suggests.
Limited-English speaking U.S. residents are nearly five times more likely to become infected with coronavirus. The study from the University of Washington Medicine System also shows that limited-English speakers are less likely to be tested at all.
According to the study, limited-English speaking individuals in the U.S. were 4.6 times more likely to test positive than those who did speak English. Only 4.7 percent of those who spoke another language were tested compared to 5.6 percent who spoke English.
People who speak primarily Cambodian, Spanish, and Amharic were most likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19, while Cantonese, Arabic, and Korean speakers were tested least often.
The study once again reasserts the point that for the United States to successfully manage the pandemic, it must take a multilingual approach.
Researchers looked at patients tested at the University of Washington Medicine System, which consists of three hospitals and more than 300 clinics. They analyzed tests conducted between February 29 – when testing first began – and May 31, 2020. Of the 31,000 patients tested for coronavirus, about 1,900 (or 16 percent) were non-English speaking.
In the United States, one in five residents (or 20 percent) speaks a language other than English at home.
About 18.6 percent of non-English speakers were diagnosed with COVID-19, compared to four percent of English speakers. Combined with their apparent reluctance to get tested, the study suggests that non-English speakers may be more inclined to wait for their symptoms to become pronounced before getting tested.
INFOGRAPHIC: The Persistence of Minority Health Disparities
The research team says that more outreach efforts, such as on-demand language access, mobile clinics, and drive-up tests are needed to contain the pandemic among communities of color.
Preparing for a Second Wave
What does this study bode for minorities should there be a second wave of COVID-19 this fall and winter, as some have feared?
There have been nearly 7 million COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and over 201,000 deaths.
According to the Washington Post and other outlets, infectious-disease experts are warning of a “potential cold-weather surge coronavirus cases – a long-feared ‘second wave’ of infections and deaths, possibly at a catastrophic scale.”
This subject will be discussed Tuesday, October 13, during our webinar titled “Preparing for a Second Wave: Language Access in a Pandemic.” Spots are still available. You can register for the event here.
Also, what are best practices for continuing to provide care to patients who are limited-English speaking, Deaf, or Hard-of-Hearing?
During this free webinar, you’ll learn from industry experts about their successes, as well as how they are preparing for a possible second wave of COVID-19.
LanguageLine Can Help
LanguageLine pioneered the language-access industry nearly four decades ago. This year it has been our distinct honor to stand by physicians, nurses, first responders, and other front-line workers in the fight against COVID-19.
LanguageLine is able to connect caregivers to our team of more than 12,000 professional, on-demand interpreters via audio or video in 30 seconds or less. We do this in more than 240 languages. LanguageLine can also translate and localize your written content. We provide these services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
It all starts with a conversation. Please contact us via our website or by calling 800-752-6096. We would like to learn more about the opportunities you may have to use mobile interpreting.