Rafael Bernal, The Hill, July 16, 2020
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) on Tuesday in a telephone town hall with constituents said he was concerned that Hispanics make up a high percentage of COVID-19 cases in his state, and then attributed this to Hispanics not wearing masks and not socially distancing as much as the rest of the population.
“Just wear the mask out of respect. And I will tell you, I’m not a scientist and I’m not a statistician, but one of the concerns that we’ve had more recently is that the Hispanic population now constitutes about 44 percent of the positive cases,” said Tillis, according to a recording of the town hall.
“And we do have some concerns that in the Hispanic population we’ve seen less consistent adherence to social distancing and wearing a mask,” added Tillis, who faces a competitive reelection race this fall that will help determine the next Senate majority.
Asked about the comments on Hispanics, masks and social distancing, Tillis campaign spokesman Andrew Romeo said Tillis thinks North Carolinians of all backgrounds should be wearing masks.
He also pointed to remarks in late June from North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen and Duke University Professor Viviana S. Martinez-Bianchi that underscored the risk of COVID-19 to Hispanics.
Nationwide, Hispanics have been disproportionately affected by the virus, in large part because Hispanics are more likely to work in industries such as construction, health care and food supply, a point noted by Martinez-Bianchi in June.