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Data Show Virus Is Twice As Deadly For Latinos

Health By O. DELGADO
Data Show Virus Is Twice As Deadly For Latinos

"I am very concerned when I see the very large percentage of Latinos who’ve died from this." 

Data out of New York City, the epicenter of the pandemic in the US, shows that the virus is killing Latinos at twice the rate of whites, according to The New York Times.

Disturbing figures are showing up across the country. States like Michigan, Illinois, Lousiana, and Texas are reporting that the coronavirus is hitting communities of color hardest.

No, the virus is not racist, but it is highlighting the racial divides that exist in our country.

We can't afford to "shelter-at-home."

"I have seen in my waiting room mostly black and brown patients who are essential workers and service workers who can’t afford to stay home," Uche Blackstock, an ER physician in Brooklyn, told The Hill.

While others shelter-in-place, the majority of working Latinos and people of color have to go out and confront potentially infected people every single day, basically risking their lives in order to keep putting food on the table.

"Less than 1 in 5 Latinos can work from home," reports Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas, a state that has a largely Latino population. "Locally, we are already seeing evidence that communities of color, including immigrant communities, have higher rates of coronavirus cases."

We can't afford to see the doctor, or can't afford to take the time off.

"Latino communities are especially vulnerable since they ... do not have equal access to health care services," says Castro.

Latinos and people of color are less likely to see a doctor when they are sick because they can't afford to take the time off work, can't afford the cost of the visit, and often have jobs that don't provide comprehensive health insurance.

Twenty percent of Latinos reported that they could not afford to see the doctor, compared with just ten percent of whites, according to the CDC.

Undocumented Latinos are particularly at risk, since they aren't eligible for state-run healthcare programs and would be afraid to come forward even if they were, for fear of deportation.

We have higher rates of underlying conditions.

Unfortunately, because of decades of segregation, discrimination, and poverty, our communities' are actually more likely to suffer from chronic illnesses like asthma, heart disease, and diabetes that make us more vulnerable to the virus' fatal complications.

What can we do?

"I am very concerned when I see the very large percentage of Latinos who’ve died from this," says Dr. Oxiris Barbot, New York City's Department of Health commissioner. A Latina herself, she is voicing the same concern that we are all feeling.

So, what can we do?

If you're in a position to do so - STAY HOME.

If you're in a position to do so, help people who are struggling. Reach out to people directly. Donate to local relief organizations. Give money, give food, give protective gear like masks and gloves. Give bigger tips.

If you have to go out into the world, mask up and keep your distance. Shower and throw your clothes in the wash as soon as you get home. Get as much rest as you can and take your vitamins. Pray.

Big picture, VOTE. Vote for policy changes that ensure access to health care for all, regardless of employment status and income. Vote for higher minimum wage and better working conditions. Vote for representatives that will fight to improve socio-economic conditions for communities of color and the working class.

The virus is colorblind, but the United States is not. 

As Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a recent press conference:

"This is a call-to-action moment for all of us."