California lawmakers look for solutions as Latinx community ravaged by COVID-19

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California's Latino community continues to be hit hard by COVID-19, with more cases and deaths than any other group.

Latinos make up about 39% of the population in California, but they account for a staggering 60% of the COVID-19 cases and nearly half of all deaths.

"They include Latinos of all ages and backgrounds, essential workers who harvest our food, keep our groceries on the shelves, address our medical needs," said State Senator Maria Elena Durazo.

Farm laborers from Fresh Harvest working with an H-2A visa maintain a safe distance as a machine is moved on April 27, 2020 in Greenfield, California.
Farm laborers from Fresh Harvest working with an H-2A visa maintain a safe distance as a machine is moved on April 27, 2020 in Greenfield, California. Photo credit Brent Stirton/Getty Images

Durazo, who represents East Los Angeles, said the main reason the community has been ravaged by the virus is that Latinos often live in larger, multi-generational households and they have jobs that require them to work in close proximity to others.

She chaired a briefing Wednesday with other lawmakers from the California Latino Legislative Caucus.

Ana Padilla, Executive Director of the UC Merced Community and Labor Center, said while Latinos are complying with health mandates, their employers are not always creating safe work environments.

"I think targeted enforcement certainly," she said. "There’s some regional aspects to enforcement that we need to address."

Padilla said workers also need to be able to come forward to report unsafe working conditions without fear of retaliation.