The COVID-19 hotspot is now California, and it’s hitting Los Angeles Latinos the hardest
The nation’s latest COVID-19 hotspot has a lot to do with immigration, and highlights the need for reform.
Just three months earlier, COVID-19 rates in California were on a decline, with some counties reporting the lowest rates since the previous surge.
Fast forward just weeks after 2020’s major holidays, and Latino residents in Los Angeles County are dying at “astonishing” rates, per the LA Times, from 3.5 daily deaths per 100,000 in Nov. to 28 deaths a day for every 100,000 residents.
It’s an increase of over 800% in just a couple of months.
As has been the trend throughout the pandemic, Latinos in L.A. County are the most affected, particularly impoverished Latino neighborhoods, because of crowded living conditions, and the simple fact that essential workers are usually unable to work from home, increasing the risk of home infection.
Black residents are experiencing a similar trend, The Times reports. Their mortality rate soared from one death a day per 100,000 to over 15.
Deaths among Asian-American residents have also grown from one to 12 per 100,000.
For Latinos, who have the highest rates of infection, one of the driving culprits is the type of essential front-line jobs to which they are employed, that come with a higher risk of exposure.
The demographic makes up 39% of California’s population.
According to the UC Berkeley Labor Center, 55% of Latinos work in essential services. They make up 93% of farmworker staff, 78% of construction workers, and 52% of janitors and building cleaners.
Many of these families come from mixed-status households, which also bring a whole other myriad of factors that contribute to the dire situation, ranging from a willingness to seek medical care, and the lack of benefits held by citizens.
On Jan. 15, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) announced he was working on a bill to develop a “fast track” to citizenship for migrant workers, but it will take months for the bill to be officially drafted and passed in Congress.
The vaccine distribution process has begun, but there are worries that it will fail to reach the hardest-hit communities in an equitable fashion.
On Jan. 14, President-elect Biden hosted a virtual meeting with Latino leaders, joined by Vice president-elect Kamala Harris to discuss his proposals to fund vaccines, and distribute them equitably and provide economic assistance to those who are struggling.
The leaders included Xavier Becerra, nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services; Miguel Cardona, nominee for Secretary of Education; and Isabel Guzman, nominee for Administrator of the Small Business Administration.
They were also joined by Lorella Praeli, President of the Community Change Action, who shed more light on the disproportionate harm on Latinx communities and how the new economic relief and recovery package should also include a path to citizenship for essential workers.
“Nearly 300K people have lost their lives due to the pandemic. Latinx people are more than 4X more likely to be hospitalized and 2.8 times more likely to die because of #COVID. Black, Latinx, and Native communities are also the hardest hit by pay cuts, evictions, & job losses,” she wrote
Praeli added that the nation also needs equitable vaccine distribution and access to economic support, testing, and treatment, regardless of immigration status.
Nearly 300K people have lost their lives due to the pandemic. Latinx people are more than 4X more likely to be hospitalized and 2.8 times more likely to die because of #COVID. Black, Latinx, and Native communities are also the hardest hit by pay cuts, evictions, & job losses. 2/6
— Lorella Praeli (@lorellapraeli) January 14, 2021
Over five million essential workers are undocumented, and they’re putting their lives on the line every day at great risk.
The increase of coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County are dramatic, and though it’s the current hotspot, the next one will likely also be fueled by Latino infections if it follows the same trend.