Chair’s Corner: COVID Barriers for Our Latino Brothers and Sisters

Chair’s Corner
A message from Skagit County Democrats Chair, Lynn Campbell

Over 60 – 65% of all positive COVID-19 cases in Skagit County have been amongst our Latino population. Yet, there are many barriers which contribute to the difficulty of getting our Latino brothers and sisters the life-saving vaccines so badly needed.

Yesterday at our Central Committee meeting we were honored to have 4 guest speakers: Rosalinda Guillen, Founder and Executive Director of Community to Community (C2C); Vanessa Malapote, Chair of Washington State Democratic Latino Caucus; and Vanessa Diaz and David Roehn representing the North Sound Accountable Community of Health.

All of our speakers and formidable activists have been working tirelessly advocating for easier access to vaccines, and greater representation of the specific needs of our Latino community members.

Specific barriers to receiving the vaccine include the need for time availability to sign up for vaccines. More often than not, when the window of availability opens it is during the work day when these workers cannot simply “take a day off” or leave work in order to sign up for the vaccines.

Internet access also creates a barrier. Too many of our farm workers may not have access to the Internet. We also need to provide greater assistance in the actual process of signing up.

There is a need for translators in order to get the information out. The struggle is real. The death rate amongst the Indigenous and Latino population has been high and devastating to these communities.

The Skagit County Gleaners has been providing services during their off hours and Saturdays to assist families with signing up for the vaccines. However, the majority of our farmworkers, postal workers, and factory workers are working on Saturdays which creates another barrier.

The Skagit County Alliance for Latinos has worked hard at including our community partners with providing education and translation.

These organizations are doing their part. We, as Democrats, need to put our core values and beliefs into active use by writing our local legislators and requesting that there is a greater allocation of vaccines available to our Indigenous and Latino populations.

The rate of vaccinations among our Latino population is hovering around 10%. That is clearly disproportionate with the rate of infection.

The Latino Alliance groups across Washington state drafted and sent a letter to Governor Inslee requesting that all of our essential workers, and Latino community be included in his plan for distribution of vaccines. The Skagit County Democrats signed on as a supporter of these efforts.

We all need to reach out to our County Commissioners, our public health department, and our local representatives requesting greater attention to vaccine availability and results for this vulnerable population.

In conclusion, when we invite people of color in to speak, they are sharing their experiences, their struggles and issues they face and live with every day. Our job is to listen with an open heart and mind. When we question the validity of the experiences shared, we are discounting and minimizing the very real struggles folks are encountering in their daily lives. I encourage all of us to listen without judgement and find ways to open our hearts to the very real need of inclusiveness. Actions matter.

If you would like to donate to our local organizations in order to assist with their efforts to address the disparities and access to COVID vaccinations here are some links: