‘Our People Are Dying': Compounded by Immigrants' Fears of Testing, Coronavirus Hits Minority Communities Hard

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Minority communities are being hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic, and many immigrants are afraid to get tested

There are palpable levels of pain in Chelsea, Massachusetts.

"Some days, I can't even talk about it, like yesterday, I was so filled with hopelessness," said Maureen Cawley, a resident of 11 years. "Our people are dying."

Chelsea, a city where more than 60% of people are Latino, has already seen 23 people die from COVID-19, and many residents are worried more will follow due to the fears of those not getting tested because of their immigration statuses.

"No one cares about your documentation status," said City Manager Tom Ambrosino. "No one is going to ask you about it, no one is going to follow up with you about it."

Ambrosino wants anyone who is symptomatic to get tested. Health professionals are reinforcing the same message.

"Regardless of your immigration status, you can be a patient at another health care organization," said Director Dean Xerras of the Massachusetts General Hospital Chelsea HealthCare Center. "You don't have to be a patient of MGH, and we will take care of you."

Hundreds who need to be taken care of are getting help in the form of food, PPE and diapers.

"The line is huge. We prepared 450 bags. We probably have enough for 100 more people, and then I don't know what to do," said Gladys Vega, the executive director of nonprofit Chelsea Collaborative, the organization distributing the food. "Today, we probably are going to be feeding more than 600 people."

And as Cawley will tell you, it's the people who need it most.

"Very poor," she explained. "Poor working class. Working our asses off for nothing."

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