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County health officials concerned over coronavirus in Latinx community


September 16 marks Mexico’s Independence Day. Many in our valley will be celebrating this day amid the pandemic but Riverside County Public Health Director is sending a message to the Spanish speaking population about their risk for contracting COVID-19. 

News Channel 3’s Dani Romero has more on what is being done. 

It’s Mexico’s Independence Day. Folks will be gathering at Fantasy Springs to celebrate Spanish Heritage Month with an outdoor concert series. A casino official told us they will have social distancing measures.  

Up to 1,500 people could attend each night of “Noches de Fuego,” a series of Latin music concerts at The Rock Yard at Fantasy Springs Casino. The outdoor shows are just part of the venue's ongoing weekly entertainment. It also includes Country Night and The Rock Yard.  

Casino officials said safety precautions include physical spacing, mask-wearing, and temperature screenings on entry. If a guest has a temperature of 100.4 or higher they will not be permitted on the property.

Riverside County Health officials wouldn’t comment on the casino's safety precautions but acknowledge they are designating special outreach efforts to the Spanish speaking community.

The reason? The Spanish community is seeing higher rates of COVID-19 infection. 

“They represent about 38% of our cases, overall in the county," said Kim Saruwatari, Riverside County Public Health Director. "Certainly their rates are higher than what we are seeing in other racial-ethnic groups.” 

Riverside County Public Health Director, Kim Saruwatari said the Latinx group is impacted disproportionately by coronavirus deaths. 

“Latinx population represents 51% of our death data. And if you compare that to the fact that they represent about 47% of the population, they are over represented in those individuals that have died from COVID-19.” 

Now, the county is targeting resources to help. 

“This community based organization is going to help us get that message out there, what it is that contact tracing is trying to accomplish and why it's really important. We also have worked with UCR and they're going to be doing some testing in the farmworker community. We also have brought on a handful of promo tourists that are working in our contact tracing, workforce,"said Saruwatari.

Editor's note: Michael Felci, Public Relations Manager for Fantasy Springs Resort Casino provided additional clarification via email on 9/17/2020.

  • "Noches de Fuego is part of our ongoing weekly entertainment that also includes Country Night (Thursdays) and The Rock Yard (Fridays and Saturdays). The rules are the same for each: masks and social distancing is mandatory, and attendance is limited to 50 percent capacity for the venue (1,500)."
  • "...our guest safety protocols include temperature screenings. If a guest has a temperature of 100.4 or higher they will not be permitted on property."
  • "Fantasy Springs is an essential enterprise of the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, who have instituted one of the most aggressive COVID testing policies in the Coachella Valley/Riverside County. Mandatory weekly employee testing was implemented in June at no cost to individuals or their families."

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Dani Romero


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