Hispanic Heritage Month- Latino essential workers facing challenges from COVID-19

Hispanic Heritage Month

Many Latinos are essential workers, and they are facing new challenges because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In tonight’s salute to Hispanic Heritage, we’re taking a look at how agricultural workers put their health at risk to put your favorite foods on the table.

If you’ve ever bought a watermelon or tomato, there’s a chance that Alfonso Ramos De Leon picked it. He’s been an agricultural worker for decades in the lowcountry, but faces new threats in the field because of COVID-19.

“Put a mask on yourself to keep me safe and healthy, but if another person brings in the virus to us without knowing, well, that’s the problem.” De Leon said.

Local health care providers, like Beaufort Jasper Hampton Comprehensive Health Services, have worked to protect the community of largely immigrant and non-English speaking essential workers.

“We have been able to contain the pandemic within the farm workers through our health education, advertising, giving them masks.” said Mari Valentin, Director.

These essential workers are critical to the public health. They usually face mental health struggles while coming here to work, aside from the added stress of not having the proper space to social distance.

“It’s just really difficult for them to kind of comply with that, with their living conditions and also with some of their working conditions. You know, some of them are working closely with each other.” said Carlo Victoriano.

The cancer survivor has been in remission since May and says even though he has lost some hair. He hasn’t lost his strength to continue working.

“I’m going to turn 70 on the last day of October and I feel really able to continue working. It’s my pleasure to and I’ve always loved working in the field.” DeLeon said.

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