The White House COVID-19 response team on Tuesday announced updates to the vaccine roll-out. Although many families are waiting to receive their first dose, one hopeful milestone: More Americans have now been vaccinated than have tested positive. Meanwhile, a new variant is spreading rapidly in Britain, and a new study shows vaccines may be less effective against it.  

This week’s “5 Essential Updates” for our gente include new information on oxygen shortages, developments on COVID-19 vaccine distribution, and tips on how to deal with taxes amid the pandemic.

1. Horrifying levels — For months, California has seen high rates of coronavirus cases, but last week the state hit an all-time high and Latinos are especially vulnerable. Latino deaths resulting from COVID-19 were up 1,000% since November, in Los Angeles County. “Our Latinx community is, in fact, bearing the worst of this pandemic,” said L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

2. More oxygen needed — States with disproportionate rates of Latinos getting sick from COVID-19 are facing issues with the infrastructure involved in getting oxygen to patients. Not equipped to deal with such high demand, hospitals in California and Texas are tackling stresses on the supply chain (piping, tubes, medical devices) used to deliver gas to patients. “We’re trying to do as much as we can to track down the supplies that will be needed just to prepare ourselves for an even larger number of patient volumes,” said Rais Vohra, Fresno County interim health officer.

3. Latinos trail in vaccine roll-out — In cities across the country, Latinos trail white people in receiving the vaccine. In New York City, only 15% of vaccine recipients have been Latino, although these same communities are disproportionately contracting and dying of the coronavirus at much higher rates. According to one recent report, white people from other areas of the city were even getting vaccinated from a site meant to serve a hard-hit Latino neighborhood.

4. Tackling language barriers  — One reason Latino communities may be receiving proportionately less vaccines than whites could be because of language barriers. To tackle these issues, some health centers are encouraging bilingual interpreters or health-care workers at vaccine distribution centers to help answer questions and provide information.

5. Dealing with your stimulus check — It’s important to understand how taxes will be done this year, with many having received one or two rounds of stimulus support. This year, if you received a stimulus check, you will not be taxed for that income; however, any income from unemployment will be taxed. If you haven’t received your stimulus payments but believe you should receive one, you can go to the Internal Revenue Service’s website to track your money.

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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]