November was the worst month of the pandemic so far. As we move into the thick of the holiday season, COVID-19 cases across the country are only rising, and The Center for Disease Control warns us against traditional gatherings this week for Thanksgiving. While vaccines on the horizon are inspiring hope in some, a new prediction shows that coronavirus cases could double in the next two months. And a new interactive map is available for people wanting to understand how high the infection rate is in their county.
This week’s “5 Essential Updates” for our gente include guidance on COVID-19 hot spots, a lawsuit that reveals new findings on the meat-packing industry, and good news in terms of immigration rights.
1. Time to hunker down — “It’s time to buckle up and lock ourselves down again,” health experts warn. As we enter the tenth month of this pandemic and Latinos continue to lead in COVID-19 cases, the winter is closing in and there’s a spike in gatherings because of the holidays. We’re getting close to a cure, but health agencies like the CDC are urging us to stay indoors and plan fewer trips. “Better a late Christmas than an early medial catastrophe,” says Zeynep Tufekci of The Atlantic.
2. Where COVID happens — To avoid COVID-19 transmission, stay clear of indoor restaurants, cafes and gyms. This is according to a new study that shows these enclosed public spaces are the top places for transference of coronavirus. Unfortunately, we know Latinos are disproportionately frontline workers at places like restaurants and cafes, which has contributed to the sky-rocketing Latino infection rates.
3. Tyson took bets — A recent lawsuit revealed that throughout COVID-19, managers from Tyson Foods forced employees to work long hours in cramped conditions and without personal protective equipment. These recent findings are especially concerning since in 21 states, over half of Latino meat workers contracted coronavirus, according to a study. Meanwhile, Tyson managers were avoiding the plant floor because they feared getting sick.
4. Win for immigration rights — Some good news came last week when a judge ruled that the Trump Administration cannot deport migrant children who cross the border without a trial. Using the threat of COVID-19 as an excuse, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents had began deporting undocumented people without a trial. This ruling will mean that children can be excluded from these deportations; “a critical step in halting the Trump administration’s unprecedented and illegal attempt to expel children under the thin guise of public health,” according to ACLU attorney, Lee Gelernt.
5. An example to follow – At the beginning of COVID-19, a shelter for the unhoused in Vermont worked hard to find empty motels to keep people without homes safe. Latinos are over-represented in the unhoused population and across the country, this population has been facing an especially hard time keeping safe during the pandemic. Vermont’s model, if implemented elsewhere, could potentially help thousands of unhoused Americans.