By Donald Gilpin
In less than two months at the helm of the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund (LALDEF), Lorraine Goodman, interim executive director of the nonprofit organization founded in 2004 to defend the rights of Latin Americans in Mercer County and facilitate their access to health care and education, has found LALDEF’s challenges multiplied by the pandemic.
Pointing out that the Hispanic population has been among the hardest hit by COVID-19, she cited statistics showing that there have been 61 COVID-related deaths per 10,000 people among whites in Mercer County and more than twice as many, 142 COVID-related deaths per 10,000, among Mercer County Hispanics — just one indicator of the alarming inequities.
“If you think about [the rate of deaths from COVID], it’s not surprising,” she said. “The immigrant community — they’re the ones working at the grocery stores. They’re the ones doing home deliveries. They often live with many people in a single dwelling, and yet they’re the ones out there interacting with many people.”
She continued, “They don’t have the option of social distancing or the option of calling in sick. They often don’t have health insurance. They probably did not get government stimulus checks, and they’re not eligible for increased unemployment. These are people who are out there helping everybody else, providing essential services, and we’re treating them horribly. They are our neighbors. We need to do better, to be kinder, more compassionate. We need to pay them and reward them for the work they do to help us.” more