August 10, 2020

Life in the time of Coronavirus is not over yet. The many lessons it has taught us can be taken to heart now. One obvious takeaway revolves around taking better care of our health and bodies. The virus revealed that pre-existing health conditions  puts some people at a greater  disadvantage than others. Making smart choices is the key to living healthy, especially for vulnerable populations such as the Latino community.

This message is for everyone, but especially Latinos: take charge of your health and wealth. You’re signing your own death warrant if you do not. 

“Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-1,” according to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) website. The conditions include asthma, heart disease, diabetes, and severe obesity. These are all conditions that greatly impact Latinos.

The Coronavirus infects indiscriminately, but disadvantaged populations carry a higher risk. Making smart health choices is hard when you do not have a job or health insurance. Other times, it comes down to environmental factors, genetic predispositions, and our own poor decisions. Whatever the case, COVID-19 has highlighted that some ethnic groups are worse off.

We saw these disparities in action. In April, places like New York City saw death rates per 100,000 were highest among blacks and Latinos. Where else did this happen? Why? We have to question the source of these  disparities.

We do know that socioeconomic status has severely compounded the problem. The crushing economic impact related to the virus shows significant wage and job loss among blacks and Latinos. 

According to a Pew Center Research analysis, “Some 61% of Hispanic Americans and 44% of black Americans said in April that they or someone in their household had experienced a job or wage loss due to the coronavirus outbreak, compared with 38% of white adults.” 

Factor in that financial savings are little to non-existent and you have an epic disaster in the making. The research cited that, “In the April survey, nearly three-quarters of black (73%) and Hispanic adults (70%) said they did not have emergency funds to cover three months of expenses; around half of white adults (47%) said the same.” 

The federal stimulus funds helped many people avoid economic disaster. Except that those lifelines are few and far between. More must be done to increase financial literacy among minorities. Investing, rainy day funds, and purchasing insurance products are all opportunities to help vulnerable communities thwart these fall outs.

Is anybody to blame for the current mess? No, I believe there are several factors at play that drive these harsh health and economic disparities. A huge part of the problem is that no one is asking the tough questions or holding political leaders–or even themselves–accountable.

No matter what is happening, you always have options. If your job doesn’t offer health insurance, get one that does. Keep elected officials accountable to their promises or  vote them out of office. If your lifestyle choices have put your health at risk, begin making better ones. We are not victims of circumstance.

Start where you are. Take inventory of what works for you and what does not. Create a plan. Work with your doctor, family, and friends to target whatever seems impossible. That might be losing weight, working out or eating better. It’s easier than ever to improve and monitor your health.

Most people have smartphones with apps for workouts, nutrition plans, and heart monitors. The daily technological advances being made are important too. Tele-medicine is no longer something out of a sci-fi movie. It has become a part of our medical reality.

COVID-19 dealt us one hell of a blow. What we do going forward is up to each one of us. Let us get fit by eating better and working out. Choose jobs that allow us to prosper. We should utilize services and products that will help us in emergencies. We should elect people who understand we are strongest when we can live completely healthy lives. 

About The Author

Luis Farias

Luis Farias has worked in the private, public and non-profit sectors. He served the people of California for a decade prior to fulfilling his dream of joining the private sector. There, he used his public sector knowledge to make it easier for CKE (Carl’s Jr. & Hardee’s) as well as its franchisees (small businesses) to deal with government at the local, state and international levels. Soon after, he joined a Latino advocacy group to advocate for policies that help small Latino businesses thrive. Currently, he helps companies connect with the growing Latino population and is in the process of starting two companies, one focused on private security, the other on helping to uplift people up in Spanish-speaking countries.

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