COVID-19 Hits Hard Hispanics

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July 8th, 2020

Photo by: Gabriel Escalera

OMAHA – Hispanics and blacks are the most affected by the Coronavirus in Omaha. Dr. Mario Sanchez says the lack of communication could help to better handle the pandemic, and top officials are not reaching these communities.

The greatest risk for Hispanics is in meatpacking jobs.

“That is huge, obviously because there are reasons because many of the Latino families work in meatpacking plants, if you have one hundred or two hundred people working indoors, obviously that is going to be spread very quickly,” Dr. Sanchez, says.

Dr. Sanchez has been a family doctor since 1997, he was born and raised in Lima Peru. Due to the increase in pandemic patients, he virtually sees an average of 24 patients daily.

“Lack of communication, that’s the biggest problem I’m seeing,” Dr. Sanchez, says.

Dr. Mario Sanchez, working with Covid-19 patients in South Omaha. Via Zoom.

Although Dr. Sanchez speaks English, we opted to have this interview in Spanish, we felt more comfortable talking about the pandemic in our native language, Spanish. He feels that poor communication between leaders and the community affects Hispanics more than others in the pandemic.

Although Hispanics speak English and there is information in Spanish for those who don’t, top officials should come closer to listen to the community needs.

Even more, Omaha needs a strong leader among Hispanics, capable of uniting the entire community. Have better representation in the state will help to establish better communication, according to Dr. Sanchez.

In Nebraska about twelve percent of the population is Hispanic and about forty-six percent of the total of those contaminated with coronavirus are Hispanic, primarily in counties where the largest source of employment is meatpacking places.

“There is no strong organization, with strong leaders, we have a lot of small groups, a lot of leaders, some do a little thing here, others there, they give each other diplomas, they give each other hugs, but in the end, they are simply doing a job for a small portion,” Dr. Sanchez, Says.

Many leading health experts point to underlying medical disorders, including heart disease and diabetes, as an explanation for why minority populations are seeing higher rates of illness and death due to COVID-19 according to the Center for Disease Control and  Prevention. These diseases are more common in blacks and Hispanics in the US. These communities also turn out to be important risk factors for the development of severe coronavirus disease.

Dr. Sánchez feels that the Hispanic community has no political power. The state and government leaders leave aside this community who may also need a different approach, and this could be the reason why Hispanics are left behind on this pandemic.

Nebraska is on track to reopen the economy, but this may not be the best for Hispanics, according to Dr. Sanchez.

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