With a disproportionate number of Georgia's immigrant community becoming sickened by coronavirus, Emory University and the Consulate General of Mexico in Atlanta have partnered to expand COVID-19 testing for the Latino population.

The new partnership  will provide testing at the consulate this Saturday and Sunday, August 8-9. There will also be testing sites in Cumming and Warner Robbins. 

The effort is being led by Dr. Jodie Guest, the vice chair of epidemiology at Emory's Rollins School of Public Health. 

"With rates of COVID-19 more than three times higher than the state average, testing in the Latino population in Georgia is critical,” Guest said in a press release. “Emory is thrilled to continue this important collaboration with the Mexican Consulate of Atlanta to offer testing events.”

She told GPB News the collaboration has gone smoothly.

"I worked to find a method to get the lab supplies we needed and coordinate the right dates," she said. "It's been a beautiful working relationship and incredibly supportive. They're going to have a fair number of their support staff there to work with us."

She said testing remains the best way of countering the spike in cases in the Latino community. Having support staff from the consulate present during Emory's testing, she said, will be a means of building trust within the immigrant community.

Emory had previously partnered with the consulate in other health care efforts, including staffing what the consul general called a "health window" inside the consulate building, which provided health care information to the Mexican immigrant community.

Consul General of Mexico in Atlanta Javier Díaz de León said the collobaration was a long overdue step in ensuring access to testing by Georgia's underserved immigrant community.

"We detected that there was the need to work on on the accessibility of the testing being done in the region in order to make them more accessible to the Latino, Hispanic, Mexican community," he said,

Díaz de León said while the health care efforts in Atlanta have been admirable, there has been some oversight in attending to Latino immigrants. He said a lot of valuable information about the pandemic wasn't offered in Spanish. 

"The other thing is that they requested a lot of documentation that was basically unaccessible to immigrants," he said.

Díaz de León said the move to increase testing comes as many of Georgia's Mexican immigrant community are being hit especially hard by the pandemic.

"The Mexican immigrant community are a full part of the community and, of course, they are being affected very strongly about this pandemic," he said. "They are in many ways disproportionately becoming a victim of the pandemic."

Díaz de León said that he hopes this partnership will be the first of many to provide testing to the immigrant community in Atlanta going forward.

Guest said she couldn't be happier with the progress so far.

"Emory is so proud to work with the Mexican consulate and we're so pleased that the Consul General recognizes the importance of testing," she said.

The dates and addresses for the testing sites are as follows:
August 8-9 at the Consulate
1700 Chantilly Dr NE
Atlanta, GA 30324

August 7-8
Iglesia Más que Vendedores
3905 Browns Bridge Rd.
Cumming, Georgia 30041

Warner Robins:
August 14-15
Iglesia Remanso de Paz
1715 Elberta Rd.
Warner Robins, GA 31093