Americans who don’t speak English will be nearly FIVE TIMES more likely to test positive for coronavirus
Americans who don’t speak English are nearly FIVE TIMES more likely to test positive for coronavirus – but less likely to be tested in the first place, study finds
- Researchers looked at nearly 31,000 patients tested for coronavirus at the University of Washington Medicine system
- Patients who did not speak English were 4.6 times more likely to test positive than those who did speak English
- Cambodian, Spanish, and Amharic speakers were most likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19
- Only 4.7% of those who spoke another language were tested compared to 5.6% of those who spoke English
- Cantonese, Arabic and Korean-speaking patients were tested the least often
Americans who don’t speak English are much more likely to test positive for the new coronavirus, a new study suggests.
Researchers found that people who spoke primary languages such as Spanish, Cambodian, and Amharic had a five times higher risk of being diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
In addition, despite their increased risk, non-English speakers were much less likely to be tested.
The team, from the University of Washington School of Medicine, says more outreach efforts, such as mobile clinics and drive-up tests, are needed to contain the pandemic among communities of color.
Researchers looked at nearly 31,000 patients tested for coronavirus at the University of Washington Medicine system. Pictured: A person is loaded into an ambulance at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington on March 12
Patients who did not speak English were 4.6 times more likely to test positive than those who did speak English (above)
For the study, published in JAMA Network Open, the team looked at patients tested at the University of Washington Medicine System, which consists of three hospitals and more than 300 clinics.
Researchers analyzed SARS-CoV-2 tests conducted between February 29 – when testing first began – and May 31, 2020.
Of the nearly 31,000 patients who were tested for the coronavirus, about 1,900 were non-English-speaking.
Patients who did not speak English were 4.6 times more likely to test positive than Americans who did speak English.
About 18.6 percent of non-English speakers were diagnosed with COVID-19, compared to four percent of English speakers.
Those whose primary language was Cambodian tested the most positive for the virus: 26.9 percent got a positive result – nearly six times more than English speakers.
Spanish and Amharic, an ethio-Semitic language, were the next speakers who tested positive with rates of 25.1 percent and 23.3 percent, respectively.
The results also showed that non-English speakers were less likely to undergo tests compared to English speakers.
Only 4.7% of those who spoke another language were tested compared to 5.6% of those who spoke English (above)
About 4.7 percent who spoke another language had their nose and throat cleaned, against 5.6 percent of those who spoke English.
Mandarin and Cantonese-speaking patients were the least likely to be tested at a rate of only 2.6 percent.
Arabic and Korean speakers were the least likely not to be tested at only 2.8 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively.
Previous research has linked higher positive rates among minorities to health and social inequalities.
Those who live in minority communities are more likely to work in so-called ‘essential’ jobs with a higher risk of exposure to the coronavirus than those who telecommute.
In addition, they have less flexible schedules, which affects their ability to take sick leave and potentially delay treatment.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have stated in the past that minority communities can benefit from material that translates the risk of SARS-CoV-2 for people who don’t speak or read English very well.
“Our study found that despite the availability of interpretation services in various clinical locations, non-English speaking patients in our health system were less likely to be tested for COVID-19 and had significantly higher infection pressure,” the authors of the new study wrote.