More than half of Latinos have seen a loved one die or be hospitalized
Diana Prieto-Bernal and her husband Teddy Bernal had just closed her two restaurants in Arizona to get rid of stress and debt and live healthier lives when the coronavirus hit.
Bernal died on July 5, 2020, four months after the restaurants closed.
Her tired and overweight body increased her risk of contracting the virus, Prieto-Bernal said.
“Covid was the trigger for his death,” she said.
The results of a new investigation by the Pew Research Center, released Thursday, show that Covid-19 has dealt American Latinos a double whammy, taking a heavy human and financial toll.
More than half, 52%, said a family member or close friend has died or been hospitalized with the coronavirus.
The reach has been wide, the survey of 3,375 Latinos in March found, with substantial shares across all age groups, immigration status, education and party affiliation, claiming that one of their loved ones had fallen ill with Covid-19.
Almost as many, 49%, said a member of their household had lost their job or suffered a pay cut since February 2020.
NBC News noted the destructive impact of the coronavirus on Latinos, including young people, in a report in December.
Even though the virus has plundered the lives of Latinos, Pew found that most are positive about the country’s situation and that many see better times ahead.
About half, 49 percent, say they’re happy with the country’s direction, and 65 percent say the worst is behind us, according to the survey. Those are jumps of 13 percentage points and 34 percentage points, respectively, from November. The survey reported an overall margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.
‘You are not prepared’
Arizona’s stay-at-home order ended in May 2020, and about a month later Prieto-Bernal and her husband went to a birthday party. Later that night, they joined friends at a bar and restaurant. They did not wear masks and interacted with people within 6 feet of them.
“We have let our guard down completely,” Prieto-Bernal said wearily.
Symptoms appeared a few days later, but Bernal refused to go to the hospital right away, saying it was just a cough. When he finally left, nothing worked. He had been in the hospital for 12 days when he died. He was 45 years old.
“I never thought for a second that he wasn’t going to come out,” Prieto-Bernal said.
Now she is trying to lead a life without her partner.
Prieto-Bernal, 46, has decided to leave Scottsdale; there are too many reminders of her husband and the people who knew him. She goes to Tucson, where the rent is also lower.
Pew listed seven potential hardships Latinos may have experienced during the pandemic, including not being able to pay rent or having to get food from food banks.
Sixty-two percent of Hispanics surveyed said they had experienced at least one of the hardships, including those who said no one in their household had lost jobs or wages because of the pandemic.
That’s far more than the 25 percent of all American adults who said they experienced financial hardship in August, Pew said.
Fifty-one percent of those who experienced job losses or wage cuts said they had difficulty paying their bills, and 37 percent of the same group said they had difficulty paying rent or mortgages.
Of those who had neither a job nor lost wages, more than a quarter (26%) reported obtaining food from food banks.
Latin American unemployment has been falling steadily since January 2011, when it was 12.3%. It hit a 4% low in September 2019 before starting to rise with the pandemic.
After Covid-19 hit the United States, unemployment among Latinos soared to almost 19% in April 2020. It has since fallen to around 7.4% in June, above the national rate of 6.1%. For Latinas, unemployment in June was 8.6 percent, and it was 6.4 percent for Latino men.
Prieto-Bernal said his plan is to earn most of his income from his media company, which creates and manages the business needs of Latino sites online.
She earns extra money by selling jewelry and clothes that she embellished. His savings are almost exhausted.
“You’re not prepared, so you’re just thinking, what am I going to do next?” said Prieto-Bernal. “I am not afraid to work. I like to work. The only thing is that you are a little more afraid. … What am I going to do? How is it going to work? “
Sometimes it’s the little things that remind her that “it’s all on you,” like not being able to call Bernal to ask him to pick up a carton of milk, she said.
“Not that he did everything, but he was a very good supplier,” she said. “He was very responsible. My daughter and I have always been her top priority. ”
Families are a safety net
Pew’s investigation found that many Hispanic families receive help from loved ones.
Prieto-Bernal spent around four months with her mother and she visited her family in the Dominican Republic this month so that she would not be alone when the anniversary of her husband’s death arrived.
“Every morning, the first thought in the morning is that it has happened. He’s not here, ”Prieto-Bernal said from Santo Domingo.
About 58% of Latinos say they have helped relatives or close friends by doing groceries, running errands, looking after their children, or lending or sending money. Almost two-thirds say they have helped send money to friends, relatives or charities since the outbreak began.
Overall, 34% of Latinos said they had received help, and more of those who lost their jobs or wages said they received help than those who did not.
Vaccination rates still lag behind for Latinos
There have been 34 million cases of Covid-19 in the United States, according to the NBC News tally.
Almost 3 in 10 Latinos told Pew they had tested positive for Covid-19 or were pretty sure they had it. Prieto-Bernal was hospitalized for eight days with the virus and her daughter also tested positive, although she did not become very ill.
Some states collect race and ethnicity data on vaccinations or report it to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC’s race and ethnicity report of 62.7% of fully vaccinated people shows that 15.2% of them are Hispanic.
Prieto-Bernal is not among the vaccinated. She said she feared the virus would enter her body and ravage it again.
“I have dreams of it,” she said. “Sometimes I dream that I take it and I am fine, and then sometimes I dream that I take it and I get sick. I do not know.”
A better future ahead
If there’s one thing the pandemic hasn’t shattered, it’s optimism among American Hispanics. Pew said the attitude of Latinos about the pandemic has essentially changed since April 2020.
For years, Pew polls have shown greater optimism among Latinos than among other population groups, said Jens Manuel Krogstad, editor and editor of the Pew Research Center. But that has changed, and the change coincided with the Trump administration, he said.
In the latest poll, however, two-thirds of Latinos said the worst of the pandemic was behind us, and 54% said they expected their personal finances to improve within a year. Among immigrants, the positive outlook was even greater.
“The growth of Latin optimism is a throwback to previous trends,” Krogstad said.
Optimism about the country’s future extends to all groups – age, immigrant or citizenship status, gender and education.
But that was not the case with Republican or Republican-leaning Latinos.
Fifty-eight percent of Democrats or those who lean toward Democrats say they are satisfied with the direction of the country, 30 points more than in December 2019.
Only a third of Republican or Republican-leaning Hispanics said they were satisfied with the country’s direction, up from 57% in December 2019.
One last wish
When the couple visited Prieto-Bernal’s home country of Colombia, Bernal told his wife he loved her so much that “if I ever die, I want my ashes to be thrown into the sea in Colombia. “.
She pushed back his comment, thinking it wasn’t something she should be thinking about anytime soon.
In December, “I did it,” she said. “I took his ashes to Colombia and put them in the sea.”
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