Local experts were in wide agreement, however, that Latinos make up a large portion of the essential workers in Summit County. Merino and Flores both work in health care, and Castillo works at a grocery store. Each of their occupations fall into the essential category, which means they had to go to work in person up until they contracted the virus.
“Many of us work one job, two jobs or three jobs so we can provide for our families, whether it be here or abroad,” Castillo said. “We want the best for our families, but it also has its downfalls.”
Dr. Kathleen Cowie, chief medical officer at the Summit Community Care Clinic, said Hispanic and Latino people are often the most underappreciated part of the county’s workforce.
“Latino patients are the backbone of our workforce,” Cowie said. “These are the folks that are keeping our businesses open.”
Working from home — a product of the pandemic that has spawned hashtags, Instagram posts and tips — is not an option for many Hispanic people in the community.
“A lot of these folks have still been working throughout this pandemic and are not the essential workers that are getting all the praise and thank-you’s that those of us on the front lines like doctors and nurses are receiving,” Cowie said.
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