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Florida Hispanic Legislators Express Concerns about Disproportionate Impact of Coronavirus on Hispanic Communities

Today, during a virtual press conference, State Legislators José Javier Rodríguez, Amy Mercado, Javier Fernández, and Cindy Polo discussed how Hispanic communities are being disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus and Trump and DeSantis’ poor response to it. The legislators expressed their concerns about a higher number of job losses in the community, as well as lack of access to healthcare services.

Hispanic communities have higher uninsured rates than other communities, and are disproportionately impacted by layoffs, with businesses reducing staff or closing as a result of the pandemic. A Pew Research Center survey found that nearly two-thirds of employed Hispanic adults say they would not get paid if the coronavirus caused them to miss work for more than two weeks. Hispanics are also less likely to have health insurance or to accept federally-funded health care for fears they would violate the “public charge” rule enacted by the Trump administration earlier this year.

Highlights from the videoconference:

State Senator José Javier Rodríguez (SD-37):

“Latinos are especially impacted by both the public health emergency, but also the economic crisis associated with the response. When it comes to public health, access among Latinos specifically here in Florida has always been an issue — not expanding Medicaid, having another set of other rules with respect to the ACA — has meant that there’s a high percentage of uninsured individuals.

“We already had systems that didn’t really work well prior to the crisis and that is mostly because of Republican leadership that has never had workers as a priority and has not had the political will to make it function. The state of Florida’s unemployment system is the worst in the country, it was before the crisis and it is even worse now.”

State Representative Amy Mercado (HD-48):

“People just need clear consistent answers from the state to help facilitate how you move forward. We finally have a statewide stay-at-home order, but that has expanded even more and the definition has changed. I am listening to my community, and many of my constituents who work in the service industry are concerned about their future and can’t find the answers from state officials.”

State Representative Javier Fernández (HD-114):

“I have been frustrated with this administration’s response to the current crisis, but more importantly their failure to anticipate the economic impacts of the closures that are necessary to fight this…

What we’ve seen in this administration is a continued commitment, not withstanding the fact that Florida is poised to lose between a billion and two billion dollars a month in revenues, to return dollars to corporations that may or may not need them without asking questions about how they will use those resources.”

State Representative Cindy Polo (HD-103):

“We are finding ourselves in an emergency that many of us for months were raising concerns about. There were bills that would have helped our community cope with this crisis, such as expanding Medicaid, that were not heard, and that would have helped the most vulnerable people in our state. I would like to focus not only on the problems that we are facing right now, but also on the problems that we have been talking about for a long time in the legislature, but the lack of leadership in our state is what has brought us to this point.”

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