Alexandra Villarreal reports for us on how, amid vast income inequality, California Latino community makes up 39% of the state’s people, but accounts for the majority of positive Covid cases:
When William Sanchez and eleven of his family members contracted Covid-19 around Thanksgiving, his toddler’s temperature spiked, his nephew vomited for days, and his diabetic mom’s blood sugar moved like a rollercoaster.
“Everything you hear on the news about, you know, this virus, and how bad it is… everything they say about it, it’s like 10 times worse,” Sanchez said.
Hardest hit was his 72-year-old mother-in-law, who he prayed would not be turned away from a Los Angeles hospital because of dwindling capacity.
She was placed on a ventilator by Christmas morning, nearly a year into a public health crisis that had already claimed hundreds of thousands of victims in the US – and amid California’s deadliest surge so far.
“We should have learned, or we should have known,” said Sanchez, an organizer with the labor union Unite Here Local 11, which represents workers at hotels, restaurants, convention centers, airports and sports arenas in southern California and Arizona.
After months of warning, Covid’s carnage in his home state “just doesn’t make sense”, he said.
As corpses overwhelm funeral homes and hospitals confront the possibility of rationing care, California’s outbreak – an average of 38,955 new infections and around 381 deaths per day, according to the Los Angeles Times – has become a devastating and disproportionate tragedy for Latino families.
Although Latinos account for 38.9% of the state’s population, they represent a whopping 55.1% of positive cases and almost half of all deaths. In Los Angeles county, where more than 850,000 infections have been recorded, Latinos are succumbing to the virus at 2.5 times the rate of their white counterparts, the LA Times reported.
But “it’s really not about race and ethnicity”, cautioned Yvonne Maldonado, a professor of global health and infectious diseases at the Stanford University School of Medicine. “It’s about race and ethnicity as a surrogate for poverty and inequity.”