The COVID Crisis: The City And The State Need To Work Alongside Latino Institutions To Help Communities Most Impacted

May 18, 2020

Uptown council member Ydanis Rodriguez states: “This week, New York State has initiated the reopening process in counties that have shown significant progress in the fight against COVID-19. In order to reopen, New York City must continue to increase its efforts to expand mass testing into all underserved communities across the five boroughs. Black, Latino, and Asian New Yorkers have been impacted the hardest by this virus and it is our responsibility to ensure that they are receiving the support and help they need during these challenging times.

Today I am calling on the City and State leadership to work alongside local Latino organizations such as SOMOS to help test, trace, and develop a plan to ensure that all New Yorkers regardless of their social or economic standing are protected. SOMOS Community Care has been playing a critical role in testing and examining community residents in Northern Manhattan and the South Bronx with a network of over 3,000 Latino and Asian Doctors.

Additionally, as the City and the State are employing Contact Tracers to help decrease the spread of the virus, they should also be open to partnerships with local organizations that already have the experience of working within our communities. Furthermore, this process must not only be data-driven. We must take a holistic approach to contact tracing and make sure local organizations that are already established in these communities are the ones interacting with residents throughout this pandemic.

Latinos must be included within any task force created by the City and the State to address the impacts of COVID. The numbers speak for themselves: the majority of individuals dying of COVID-19 are also the poorest New Yorkers, and Latinos comprise a significant percentage among this group. The City’s Racial Inequality Task Force, as well as the sector advisory councils, need to reflect the people of New York City.

All sector advisory councils and task forces should be a reflection of the communities we serve: 29% Latino, 24% Black, 13% Asian.

However, Latino representation within the advisory councils is nominal. Moreover, there are only 4 Dominicans within the advisory councils, even though we represent over 1 million New Yorkers in the City. All sector advisory councils and task forces should be a reflection of the communities we serve: 29% Latino, 24% Black, 13% Asian.

One of the communities most severely impacted by the novel coronavirus has been the Latino community, comprising almost a quarter of all those infected. We need to have adequate representation amidst this pandemic. We must include those that have lost so much at disproportionate rates across the City in the decision making process. This is about reclaiming the space that Latino, Black, and Asian Communities deserve. They must have a seat at the table when it comes to discussing New York City’s future.”

Ydanis Rodriguez was elected to the New York City Council in 2009, representing the 10th Council District (Washington Heights, Inwood, and Marble Hill). An educator for 13 years, Ydanis co-founded Gregorio Luperon High School and the Washington Heights Health Academy. As a leading voice at the NYC Council, Ydanis has brought changes in transportation, education, economic development, housing, police reform, healthcare, environmental policy, and ensuring low-income families have an equitable path to middle class.

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