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COVID-19 Pandemic Impacts Hispanic/Latinx Community

Posted: July 7 2020 at 08:27 PM
Author: By Rev. Fabiola Grandon-Mayer


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Bishop Sally Dyck meets virtually with Hispanic/Latinx leaders in the NIC about the challenges they're facing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The coronavirus has hit all people, especially vulnerable communities. One of the populations that has been devastated by this pandemic is the Hispanic/Latinx community, which is the second-largest ethnic group in the United States, making up 16.7% of the country and 17.4% of Illinois.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker tweeted on May 6, “The Latino community is now testing positive for COVID-19 at the highest rate of any demographic group in Illinois. Nearly 16,000 of the more than 26,000 Hispanic residents that were tested were positive — a positivity rate of 60%, more than three times our state average.” The number of positive cases among Hispanic/Latinx Illinoisans is on track to make up half of all cases in the state. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hispanic or Latino persons have a hospitalization or death rate from COVID-19 approximately 4 times that of non-Hispanic white persons.

In our Northern Illinois Conference, we have 20 Hispanic/Latinx churches and New Faith Communities, and 29 pastors and lay missioners who serve in Spanish speaking congregations and some in cross-cultural appointments. They regularly meet to share experiences and support each other. 

On June 16, Bishop Sally Dyck met online with the NIC Hispanic/Latinx leaders to listen to stories and experiences of how this pandemic has affected their communities and how pastors are providing care and assistance.

"Our Hispanic/Latinx people don't want to be tested because they don't want to lose their jobs," said Pastor Audrey Molina from Iglesia Metodista Unida Emanuel. For many who work in factories, if they don't go to work, they risk not getting paid or losing their job.

The economic impact of the pandemic has also disproportionately hurt people in the Hispanic/Latinx community. They’re experiencing a higher unemployment rate than the national average because they make up a substantial percentage of the workforce in many of the most affected industries. 

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Volunteers from Chicago Lawn UMC's food pantry are feeding more than double the number of people they typically serve since the pandemic hit.

“Our church has a food pantry that, in normal circumstances, feeds 95 people from the Chicago Lawn area. Now we are providing food for 250 individuals to feed approximately 750 people from Little Village, Girsh Park, 71st and California, and Pilsen neighborhoods,” said Rosa Garcia, Lay Missioner from Chicago Lawn. 

Pastor Cesar Hernandez from First Church in Crystal Lake shared that he joined the Latino Leadership Network for McHenry County, which is an organization that helps Hispanic/Latinx families by providing information, identifying resources, and offering instruction within the areas of education, economics, health, and human rights.

“Our Hispanic parishioners have shared their frustration with employers who are unconcerned regarding worker safety. Many of them are working in facilities where there is a shortage of basic protective supplies,” said Pastor Shirley Pulgar-Hughes from Redeemer of Calvary/El Redentor del Calvario.

During the June 16 meeting, pastors and lay missioners shared heartbreaking stories about what Hispanic/Latinx people are facing during these challenging times—but they also shared uplifting stories about their extraordinary efforts to walk with their congregations.

Bishop Dyck encouraged the Hispanic/Latinx pastors to continue to "do no harm" and to lead their congregations, making sure that they are all safe. She concluded the meeting by commending the pastors to God's protection, care, and keeping.

Learn more from the CDC to help reduce the impact of COVID-19 on racial and ethnic minority populations.

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