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MD Latinos Devastated by COVID-19 to Get Assistance

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Latinos have the highest rate of COVID-19 infection of any race or ethnic group in Maryland, according to the Maryland Department of Health. (Wikimedia Commons)
Latinos have the highest rate of COVID-19 infection of any race or ethnic group in Maryland, according to the Maryland Department of Health. (Wikimedia Commons)
May 28, 2020

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The coronavirus pandemic is hitting the Latino community particularly hard across the nation, and in Maryland, Latino residents in Prince George's County now may get some help.

A coalition is raising funds to provide emergency assistance for the Langley Park community there, which lies in the ZIP code with the highest rate of coronavirus cases in the state.

Chispa Maryland, a program launched by the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, has started a GoFundMe campaign to assist folks with rent, food and other essential items, according to Ramon Palencia-Calvo, the Chispa program director.

He says many in the neighborhood have lost their jobs or businesses and even though they pay taxes, they're not eligible for government assistance.

"Many of them might not have a Social Security number, although they are very productive members of society," Palencia-Calvo states. "Many of them are small business owners, they are active in social causes. They have contributed greatly."

This week, advocacy group CASA Maryland asked Gov. Larry Hogan to provide state aid for the 250,000 undocumented immigrants in Maryland. To contribute to the GoFundMe campaign, visit the web site marylandconservation.org.

Palencia-Calvo points out that Hispanic people have the highest rate of infection of any race or ethnic group in Maryland.

Latinos often work low-wage jobs and live in multi-generational households, he says, which can lead to increased spread of the virus. He says it's unfortunate that the immigrant community has born a disproportionate burden of the pandemic in the U.S.

"In the long run, what we're trying to do by assisting and working with these communities is we want to ensure that the community is strong and they have a strong political voice so we don't end up in this situation again," Palencia-Calvo stresses.

According to the U.S. Census, a majority of Latinos work in service occupations, where many jobs have disappeared during the pandemic.

Diane Bernard, Public News Service - MD