EDITORIAL OPINION by David Trujillo
LOS ANGELES—This is about more than just the daily statistics, anxious review of we each, as fathers, and family member, conduct of the . It is about living and dying.
Most people are following the overall coronavirus daily statistics. But it is only recently that concerns have been raised about the effects of COVID-19 on racial groups. Latinos, African Americans and other people of color are dying in high numbers from COVID-19.
Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti has stated that L.A. County has the highest rate of Latino deaths in the nation. Overall in California, among the skyrocketing number of diagnosed cases leading to a fatality—Latinos continue to comprise about 30%. This number is growing daily. We should all be concerned.
The reason for this concern was highlighted by Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Director of L.A. County Public Health, who indicated at a recent press conference that “...data on race or ethnicity of people who have died are incomplete and we don’t know the total numbers.”
Racial data slowly emerging from around the country only confirms what many of us already knew would come. Inequities in the health care system, testing, hospitalization, and admissions remain significant concerns as Latinos continue to die from the pandemic at a rate that exceeds their proportion in the population throughout the state as well as in L.A.
A casual observer might think the Coronavirus has no boundaries, knows no racial identity or economic status. Yet its effects are most severely felt within the Latino community because of pre-existing health conditions which are the long legacy of substandard health care for people of color living in politically and economically marginalized, historically red-lined inner-city neighborhoods.
In them, even social distancing can be a challenge because of the higher population density in neighborhoods and communities many of today’s most “essential” workers—Latinos and people of color at fast-food restaurant drive through windows, take-out restaurants, transport and trucking companies, industrial agricultural farms, grocery store chains, and in health care occupations at every level—have called home for generations.
It seems highly unusual that there would be a paucity of reporting, information and data based on the research findings regarding racial demographics of Latinos related to COVID-19. Relevant agencies are just beginning to release racial data. What does the limited reporting data on racial demographics show? There is no doubt that this Coronavirus pandemic is devastating to the Latino communities and the overall economy. Latinos are disproportionately affected by the pandemic. In the meantime, the lack of reporting on data still remains a major problem even as the daily death tolls mount.
At a recent national press conference, the president stood before the American people and claimed that he was doing a good job, even as the death total has risen to over 32,000. Disappointment, confusion, frustration, and fear describe how the president has handled the Coronavirus pandemic. He doesn’t care about how COVID-19 affects Latinos, African-Americans, Asian and Indigenous Indian populations. The convergence of xenophobia and COVID-19 has created a death trap for the Latino community and people of color.
On a daily basis, the media and politicians discuss ways of dealing with this pandemic along with how to deal with the lack of national-level leadership. Some experts have argued that because of the limited data on racial groups being infected by the COVID-19, we just don’t know for certain if people of color are dying at a higher rate. This is nonsense. As the pandemic continues, data on the COVID-19 clearly now show that Latinos and other people of color are dying now, they will die tomorrow and will die in the future.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has said, “It’s sick, it’s troubling, it’s wrong.” Governors are pushing their states to develop better data. The president, who only recently acknowledged that there is, in fact, some disparity in the death rate among Latinos and African Americans compared to other racial groups. His acknowledgment came only after a reporter raised it at a press conference. The President told a reporter that he would have a report on the matter in two or three weeks and that he is doing everything in his power to address this challenge. The same president who compared COVID-19 to a common cold.
Decisions and actions by the president create a suspicion that he just doesn’t care or he doesn’t want to know how COVID-19 has affected people of color, or Latinos in particular. He views this pandemic through rose-colored glasses. He views the problems it os through dark lens sunglasses.
Farm workers are being infected at an accelerated rate. The Navajo Nation is in crisis triggered the COVID-19 pandemic. Immigrants fear for their lives and are closer to death each time they go back to hiding in the shadows. Latinos who are mostly working-class are each dying with increased frequency each day. Yet the president continues to claim there is no problem and everything is under control.
Faced with familiar and deeply systemic racism continues to penetrate our lives. Historically this has proven to be true. For now, once again, we must protect our lives, our family and community under some very difficult conditions. Be safe, be strong, stay healthy. We will endure and hopefully change is coming.
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