#COVID911: Latino Community Responds to Coronavirus Crisis

Sep 1, 2020
10:19 AM

Editor’s Note: The following statement was made public on Tuesday morning by the following organizations: Jolt, Latino Decisions, LULAC, MALDEF, National Day Labor Organizing Network and the Unidos US Action Fund.

Today, we are a community in crisis. COVID-19 is devastating the Latino community across our country. Recent studies have found far-reaching impacts:

  • 52% of Latino parents/primary caregivers had their work hours or their pay cut, but kept their jobs.
  • 29% of Latino families had someone in their household lose their job since businesses across the country began shutting down due to COVID-19.
  • Positive cases of coronavirus among Latinos has outpaced other groups since Memorial Day in 20 out of 27 states that reported coronavirus cases by ethnicity.

We must call attention to this crisis that is leaving many in our community homeless, destitute, sick and tens of thousands more, dead. That’s why we’re sharing our stories of how this pandemic has impacted Latinos. From those who have fallen sick, to those that have lost loved ones, lost their jobs, had to close the doors to their small businesses, or even lost their homes. Let’s share our stories using the hashtag #COVID911.

When the powers that be won’t tell our stories, we must tell them, and demand action from our federal and state governments.

The pain and impact of this disease on our community is disproportionate to our share of the population. As advocates and leaders in the Latino community, we have been sounding the alarm, calling on our elected officials, government agencies, and key industries that employ Latinos, telling them to act now! Yet, we have not seen the action or even the news coverage that this crisis demands.

We are a culturally rich and diverse community. While no single experience can define us, we know that the majority of us are working-class and low-wage workers. We know that millions of us lost our jobs or were forced back to work under conditions that are still unsafe. We are on the frontline of COVID-19.

Despite all of this, millions in our communities received zero financial support from our federal and state governments. In fact, mixed-status families were left out, and undocumented essential workers were deliberately excluded, because they are deemed unworthy of assistance—even in a global emergency, as they risk their lives to keep our economy running!

In slaughterhouses from South Dakota to Louisiana, Latino labor was deemed “essential” by our national leaders, but only so that Latinos would be sent back to work, even when hundreds of meatpacking workers were falling ill. In California where 92% of farmworkers are Latino and on construction sites in Texas where nearly 80% of the workforce is Latino, our community was sent back to work with few safety guidelines. This led to rapid spread of the disease in our community.  We might be essential, but we are clearly viewed as disposable.

The pandemic has exposed our relegation to second-class status, which we know we occupy with other communities of color that also have been disproportionately impacted as well. This includes our African American and Native American brothers and sisters.

As Latinos we live in a duality. We are part of a country in which many of us just arrived and yet, in a place where we have always existed. No matter how many generations our families have been in the United States or if our families never crossed the border, but were divided by it. Our American identity and with it, our equal citizenship and rights, is consistently called into question. It is this worldview that ensures millions of Latino families in mixed-status households are excluded from any federal stimulus support, while at the same time our work is deemed essential.

In this crisis, the President, and too many state governors, have gladly accepted our labor but refused to accept our full humanity. And for many of us, the consequences have been devastating and deadly. This historic election year demands bold action by local and national elected officials and candidates to confront the public health and economic crisis we face.

This is why we say #COVID911. We demand that our suffering is seen and addressed fully and with acknowledgement of our human dignity and worth. We seek to expose our pain and do so with a deep appreciation of the toll this disease has had on all communities of color. We urge our community to tell their stories, which  have been largely ignored by the mainstream media. We know that to find resolution to this crisis, the broader American public must first understand the gravity of our plight and confront it by truly seeing our faces, hearing our voices and understanding our outcry.