Statistics across the United States have proved that COVID-19 has affected the Black and Latino communities at higher rates than our white brothers and sisters. At the time of this writing in York, PA, Latinos (around 33% of the community) account for over 80% of positive test results.
These dismal numbers are due to numerous factors. They include poor working conditions and sanitation efforts at warehouses, poultry centers, and distribution centers (which often employee many Latinos); language barriers in getting pertinent information to the Latino community (especially in the poorer neighborhoods at the beginning of the pandemic); insufficient healthcare provided to our communities; and the lack of technological savvy with wifi, the internet, computers and such. When you add in non-compliance of the stay-at-home restrictions and also cultural norms within the Latino community, we have created a ticking time bomb that has ravaged many families in the Latino community across the United States.
Currently, many people and organizations are working closely to devise and implement plans to ensure that we are communicating the important information, in Spanish, to those in the Latino neighborhoods. These plans include postal mailings, public transportation postings, flyers, videos, billboards, social media, word of mouth, and engagement of Latinos and Spanish-speaking businesses.
If we truly wish to offer support and resources that can help stop the spread of this virus, it is imperative that we understand the communities being most deeply affected. We must take the time to understand how those communities may be different from our own. We must be sensitive to cultural differences or a lack of resources that may be contributing to these different outcomes.
We must commit ourselves to working to remedy any inequity as a matter of faith and justice.
Lou Rivera is member of Union Lutheran Church, York, PA, where his husband Ricardo Serpa is on church council. Lou is a member of York City Council and works in hospitality management. He is a native of his beloved Puerto Rico.