BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Local community leaders sent a message Friday urging Latino and Hispanic residents to take COVID-19 seriously as more than 60% of local deaths have been of people who identify as Hispanic or Latino.

It’s a call from the Kern Latino COVID-19 Task Force. They say it is launching an effort to raise awareness, keep people safe and eventually reopen the economy.

“We want to save lives in our Latino community, we urge our community, our ‘gente’ to get tested,” Jay Tamsi, CEO of the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and task force member, said.

Attorney David Torres said “it’s OK to be boring!” and to avoid large gatherings.

“For us Latinos that means stay away from the ‘pachangas’ … stay away from your abuelitos,” he said.

Experts and local officials agree: More testing done in the county, leads to restrictions being lifted faster.