Latinos in Virginia are hard hit by COVID-19, and this is attributed to several factors. 

During a bilingual news conferenceGov. Ralph Northam said that about 45 percent of COVID-19 cases in Virginia have been diagnosed among Latinos and Hispanic residents, which comprise only around 10 percent of the population.

Essential Workers with no Adequate Protection

NBC Washington reported earlier that Latinos in the state are more possibly to work in sectors that have higher risk factors "and less possible to have insurance."

For Senior Lead Organizer of the Legal Aid Justice Center's Immigrant Advocacy Program, Edgar Aranda-Yanoc, during this public health crisis, "Latinos are on the frontlines."

The advocacy leader emphasized that Latinos are indeed, "Frontline workers-they are heroes" without the luxury to stay home and work through teleworking or Zoom meetings and conferences. 

These frontline workers, Aranda-Yanoc continued, "Wipe our floors, pluck feathers, pick crops and clean our rooms."

The immigrant advocate added other reasons why more and more Latinos in Virginia are being tested positive with the virus are "language and fear among immigrants" that if they don't have documentation, they can be subject to expatriation by what he called "a hostile federal administration" if they show up to seek testing for the virus or treatment.

Aranda-Yanoc, who is also the executive director of a nonprofit advocacy group, the Virginia Coalition for Latino Organizations, reiterated that many of these people in the Latino community are considered essential workers and they are required to work where they do not have adequate protections.

CBS19 News reported earlier today, nationally, "49 percent of Latino's lost," their income or jobs while only 16 percent can work from home. The figures, according to the news site, have put the affected people from this group in a harm's way.

Initiative to Combat the Pandemic

In response to the growing number of COVID-19 cases, Virginia has increased its outreach, specifically in Spanish, offering free COVID-19 testing in places where there are large populations of Latinos, and tracking the data. 

For the Spanish-speaking immigrants in Virginia to better understand the government's initiatives to fight COVID-19, a big part of the news conference on Thursday was held in the Spanish language.

Virginia Latino Advisory Board member, Dr. Sergio Rimola said, he suggested for the state to hire several "contact tracers who understand the Latino community." He also recommended social distancing and hand-washing since COVID-19 continues to spread.

Also, Rimola said, the global pandemic has brought to light the inequalities existing in their community in terms of health. 

Aside from its initiative to address COVID-19 cases among Latinos in Virginia, the government is also preparing to reopen phase three slated for June 26, Northam said. The governor added, he advised the public to continue practicing social distancing.

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