Utah’s Coronavirus Community Task Force has a new subcommittee focused on addressing the needs of minority communities in Utah.
Hispanic and latinx Utahns have a disproportionately high rate of COVID-19. They make up 33.4% of the state’s cases, but only 13.9% of its population, according to the Utah Department of Health. Non-hispanic white Utahns, on the other hand, account for 48.1% of the state’s cases, but 78.6% of its population.
The subcommittee consists of members of the Utah Division of Multicultural Affairs along with community and faith leaders.
It has already conducted a survey that found language and cultural barriers were preventing members of minority communities from receiving public health information, like social distancing guidelines.
“Our subcommittee will use the data from the survey and other resources such as the health department to most effectively get the necessary information to our multicultural communities,” said Nubia Peña, head of the subcommittee.
The state created its Coronavirus Community Task Force in early March, and the Economic Response Task Force in mid-March. The subcommittee focused on minority residents wasn’t announced until late April. But Byron Russell with the Utah Multicultural Commission said it’s been in the works for about six weeks.
“Today’s announcement is not a reaction, it’s actually a proactive approach,” Russell said. “This announcement is actually the culmination of making sure we have the right people in mind.”
When the economy starts to reopen, Russell said the subcommittee will be working to ensure minority Utahns have equal access to new jobs.
Sonja Hutson covers politics for KUER. Follow her on Twitter @SonjaHutson