In the midst of the holiday season, Congress is working to support those hurt financially by the COVID-19 pandemic through an economic relief deal before the end of the year. Meanwhile, this week saw the U.S.’ greatest record of coronavirus-caused deaths. This is also true for Latinos, who are still dying at alarming rates. “It’s common to see the virus strike whole households” in the Latino community, according to Vanessa Alvarado of LUPE, a Texan community group. 

This week’s “5 Essential Updates” for our gente include vaccine debates, updated unemployment rates and a Latino Holiday classic. 

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1. Vaccine debates affect our gente — As the coronavirus vaccine gets closer to public distribution, the country’s immunization program is faced with a choice. Some say elderly people with serious medical conditions should get the vaccine first, and some say it should be the essential workers who are exposed to the virus in their daily lives. Either way, Latinos will be affected by the decision made; our communities are disproportionately made up of essential workers, and Latinos 65 years and older are two times more likely to die from COVID-19 than white people of the same age group, according to a recent study.

2. America needs to close — “The only way to win quickly is closing down,” according to some health experts who are concerned with sky-rocketing COVID-19 rates. While wealthier people have been able to transition to work from home, lower-income workers (including around 65% of Latinos) have effectively been forced to leave home for work and considered “essential labourers”.

3. Latino enclaves left behind — While 245,000 jobs were added in November, this is the slowest month of job growth since spring of 2020. In some parts of the country, Latino enclaves lag behind economically. “It confirms we remain in the midst of one of the worst economic and jobs crises in modern history,” according to President-elect Joe Biden.

4. Sotomayor advocates for saving lives — While there are national debates taking place about how much power local governments should have when it comes to COVID-19 restrictions, Sonia Sotomayor, the only Latina Supreme Court Justice, has made her position clear. “The Constitution does not forbid States from responding to public health crises,” she wrote in a dissent. “Particularly when these regulations save lives.” 

5. Feliz Navidad turns 50 – For Latinos, José Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad” is the song of the season. The Puerto Rican artist released the iconic Christmas classic 50 years ago, and to commemorate the milestone, he’s released a new version featuring the voices of Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jason Mraz, Shaggy and others. It could be a special treat for loved ones who are celebrating the holidays far away! 

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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]