On Monday Latinos across the country celebrated a holiday season more bitter than usual, as people mark Día de Muertos to honor our relatives who have died from COVID-19. Unfortunately, the infections continue to rise, and 50,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized as medical experts warn our healthcare system is reaching capacity.

This week’s “5 Essential Updates” for our gente include how COVID-19 is affecting Latina mothers, demands for more aggressive testing sites and tips on safely socialising for the holidays. 

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1. Safely socializing for the holidays —  Latino infection rates are sky-rocketting and we are all being advised to practice safety during get-together this winter, especially because Latinos tend to socialize with our extended families. When people from different households gather indoors for holiday meals, the risk of spreading COVID-19 increases, so health experts are advising for small, masked gatherings during the holidays. 

2. Latina mothers lose most work — Over the past year, Latina mothers have disproportionately lost work due to the pandemic, and are leaving the workforce at nearly three times the rate of white women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In September, Latina mothers experienced an 8% drop in employment, compared to the previous year, according to a recent study. Some are losing their jobs and some are leaving the workforce voluntarily because of increasing demands on their life, like staying home with their kids during virtual classes. 

3. Latina domestic workers struggle — Over 90% of domestic workers lost their jobs because of COVID-19 by the end of March, according to a new survey by the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Tens of thousands of Spanish-speaking domestic workers are the main breadwinners in their households, and most have reported housing and food insecurity over the past six months. 

4. Latinos need access to testing sites — The testing sites have to be open, 24-7,” says  Citlalmina Ortiz, of the Barrio Defense Committee in San Jose. She’s one of many Latino leaders demanding increased support around COVID-19 testing.  As infection rates rise across the country, more aggressive testing can keep our communities safe. Increasing accessible testing times is a key to waning infection rates among Latinos. 

5. Uniting Latinos while giving back — Latinos are giving back to our communities through  groups like Hispanic Star, an advocacy group. During the pandemic, the group has united Latinos to donate over 1.2 million personal care items to more than 200,000 families nationwide, according to founder Claudia Romo Edelman. Latinos’ limited access to healthcare prompted Hispanic Star to launch “hubs,” which are regional groups of volunteers that focus on local needs. 

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Luna Olavarría Gallegos (she/her/hers) is a Content Writer for Pulso. She's a storyteller working at the intersections of culture and global politics, and has been published in The Guardian, The FADER and Remezcla. Based in New York, she’s originally from a bicultural home in New Mexico. 📧: [email protected]