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As COVID Spikes in California, Latinx Workers Who "Keep the State Going" See Up to 5x the Deaths

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Amid a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations across the United States, the Latinx community has been hit especially hard in places like California, where many Latinx workers fill essential jobs as farmworkers and meatpackers. "Latino and people of color basically do the scut work that keep the state going, its economy going, but get very little of the resources," says Dr. David Hayes-Bautista, director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. His recent study shows Latinx Californians between the ages of 50 and 64 have died at more than five times the rate of white people of the same age.

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AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! The Quarantine Report. I'm Amy Goodman, with Juan Gonza'lez. As states like California see a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in fact, California has just surpassed New York in number of cases, though it has a quarter of the deaths of New York the Latinx community has been especially hard hit.

A new report shows Latinx Californians between the ages of 50 and 64 have died at more than five times the rate of white people of the same age. The report from UCLA, the University of California, Los Angeles, links the trend to the fact that Latinx workers make up the bulk of agricultural workers, who are high-risk essential workers.

In a Frontline PBS documentary called COVID's Hidden Toll that aired Tuesday night, farmworker Sinthia Hernandez describes how she has both cancer and diabetes, which put her at a higher risk for complications if she were to contract COVID-19, and that the contractor she works for requires her to bring her own mask.

SINTHIA HERNANDEZ: [translated] All us farmworkers are making a big sacrifice out of necessity for hunger, to be able to feed our families and to have a place to live. " Those of us who are working have so much debt and bills to pay that the money sometimes isn't even enough to buy one mask, because each mask costs $3 or $4 at the store. And it's disposable.

AMY GOODMAN: Likewise, a report from the Centers for Disease Control found 87% of workers infected on the job at meat processing plants are people of color.

Because of the surge of cases in Los Angeles, it may soon face a second stay-at-home order. This comes as a Los Angeles Apparel factory that employs mostly Latinx workers to produce face masks has been shut down after health inspectors found, quote, "flagrant violations" of infection control orders. More than 300 workers at that one factory tested positive for COVID; four died. The company is run by Dov Charney, former CEO of American Apparel, who was ousted amidst allegations of misusing funds and allowing sexual harassment. Workers said the company failed to clearly inform them when people got sick, or enforce social distancing.

For more, we're joined by Dr. David Hayes-Bautista, distinguished professor of medicine and director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

It's great to have you with this, Dr. Hayes-Bautista.

DR. DAVID HAYES-BAUTISTA: It's great to be here. Great to be here.

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Democracy Now!  is a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program hosted by journalists Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez. Pioneering the largest public media collaboration in the U.S., Democracy Now! is broadcast on (more...)
 
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