LOS ANGELES - A local physician, Daniel Turner-Lloveras, created the Latino Coalition Against Covid-19 to combat the impact of COVID-19 on the Latino community in California and across the nation.
Data from the State of California shows Latinos account for 38.9% of the total population, but 55.5% of coronavirus cases in the state. It's the highest number of cases among any racial group.
CDC data shows Latinos are 3.1 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 2.3 times more likely to die from COVID compared to white residents in the U.S.
"We've seen stories that show the disconnect between health information and the Latino population. A lot of organizations started creating handouts, pamphlets, websites targeting the Latino population. Some of them did it excellently and some of them did it not so well," said Turner-Lloveras.
He wanted to create a single space to connect community organizations, resources, and websites that are successfully targeting the Latino community, and therefore, founded the coalition.
"The idea behind the coalition was that it seemed Latinos throughout the country were disconnected when it came to helping Latino communities, and also the vaccine rollout appeared disconnected. Because of this disconnect, there wasn't sharing of resources in our communities. I noticed that the connection was not there and so that was the premise to create the Latino Coalition Against COVID-19, a coalition of coalitions that ties together all the different community organizations," he said.
Turner-Lloveras is working with hundreds of other doctors, leaders and community organizations as part of the coalition. It addresses COVID and vaccination questions too.
"It's one place to go for resources, and also to have a unified voice where we could address some of the major issues that created the digital divide and some of the major issues that are preventing health equity from taking place in the Latino community," he said.
Turner-Lloveras believes access and the digital divide are contributing to the problem.
"I think access to care has been a big issue. There's also a component of fear for those immigrants who want to go seek care but are afraid that ICE might intercept and put them into detention centers. There's the digital divide which is the lack of access to the internet or a lack of digital skills or digital literacy to be able to use computers and mobile phones to get online, to sign up for vaccines, to sign-up for resources because now overnight, everything has gone online," he said.
He said there are also cultural aspects that need to be addressed by organizations and health care systems.
"Latinos are more likely to live in large households so there are many people in one home, and many don't have the luxury of being able to isolate themselves from others so that makes it very difficult for someone to test positive to be in a place in the home where they're not placing other family members at risk. Some healthcare systems are doing a great job of presenting health information, culturally sensitive to their patients, some are not, and it's as easy as going on a healthcare system's website and it might all be in English and there's nowhere to be found a button that says do you want to read this in Spanish," he said.
Their coalition's website aims to provide culturally sensitive information.
"Latinos come from a lot of different backgrounds so there are Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Salvadorians, Central Americans, and we really would ideally develop literature that is culturally sensitive to each of these groups," he said.
Turner-Lloveras said there is a strong network of community healthcare workers who have been providing information to the community, but the pandemic makes it more difficult.
"Promotores are very good at knocking on doors, engaging the patients, and doing outreach but with the pandemic, that needs to convert to a digital outreach which as we saw with the educational system when you try to convert to digital, sometimes it's not as easy as it sounds," he said.
Turner-Lloveras has been helping people, seniors particularly, who are struggling to sign up for vaccination appointments online by remote accessing their computers with permission too.
"What is maybe second nature for many of us is completely foreign for someone who's not used to using a computer or accessing the internet," he said.
Turner-Lloveras said it's important to address the disproportionate impact on the community as soon as possible and believes his coalition will help.
"I felt that if we were united, it would be a lot easier to make a statement and to speak out about some of the things that are harmful to Latinos and their families so it means a lot if we're able to create a unified voice to make things better for the Latino community across the country," he said.
For more information, click here. The coalition can also be contacted via Whats App at 323-607-8861.