When the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, experts projected infection surges. Many of these projections have come to fruition, and indicate the pandemic is far from over. Meanwhile, last week Latinos joined in protests across the country demanding justice after a grand jury brought no charges against Louisville police for Breonna Taylor’s death. And while there isn’t evidence that #BlackLivesMatter protests contributed to the COVID-19 surge, Harvard Medical School has outlined tips for protesting safely, with masks. 

This week’s “5 Essential Updates” for our gente include student hunger, immigrants being deported during COVID-19, college enrollment declines, and pandemic Hispanic Heritage celebrations. 

1. Fighting against student hunger — Before COVID-19, food and housing insecurity was already rampant in college campuses, and the pandemic has escalated this crisis, especially for Latinos. College food pantries have appeared, and one California mutual-aid group is starting the Basics Needs Initiative to help students survive the pandemic with access to food and housing. 

2. Deportations during COVID-19 — More than 400,000 undocumented immigrants receiving Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to stay in the U.S. are at risk of deportation. On September 14th, a federal court ruled that temporary protections for immigrants from six countries, including El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras, could end. About 130,000 of the immigrants impacted are essential workers. 

3. College enrollment declines among Latinos —  A recent study by Clearinghouse Research Center reported that community college enrollment in the U.S. dropped 7.5% since last semester due to soaring unemployment, and to classes moving online. This could have disastrous consequences for the 52% of Latino undergraduates who attend community colleges

4. Stories of recovery — We’ve heard tragic stories about the illnesses and deaths of our gente across the country, but less about those recovering. Tampa Bay Times put together some stories with happy endings that include people like Ramón Rodríguez, a Dominican American real estate agent who was hospitalized for 12 days and lost 20 pounds, but happily returned home. 

5. Unique Hispanic Heritage Celebrations — During last year’s Hispanic Heritage Month, we saw celebrations across the country (like this one 👆🏽) in churches, schools, and community centers honoring our Latinidad. This year, we’re celebrating differently. In Kansas City a large Mexican flag has been displayed to show pride, and cities like Boston and Miami are hosting online events like a virtual salsa fest 💃🏾