Woman shares emotional story of COVID-19's impact on family, Latino community

This week, America passed the grim milestone of 250,000 lives lost from the coronavirus.

Jennifer Montesdeoca is one of those dealing with grief and a measure of guilt.

"I wish I could have done more," she said.

But as her mom tells her, Montesdeoca did the best anyone could.

"At one point, I kind of started blaming myself, saying, like, 'I could have talked to the doctors more. I could have done this,'" she said.

As the English speaker in the household, she translated for the entire family when both her mother and grandfather tested positive for COVID-19.

"I was like, you know, trying to translate all to my mom without crying," she said. "It was hard, I'm like, trying to say, 'Okay, let me cool down and let me explain it and try my best not to shut down.'"

Montesdeoca's mother survived but her grandfather, Luis Sibri, lost his battle at age 68.

"It's real and it's very painful," Montesdeoca said.

Philadelphia's COVID-19 dashboard shows Hispanic Philadelphians have been hospitalized at the highest rate, but are the least likely group to get tested.

Black Philadelphians are being disproportionately impacted, too.

"We are contracting COVID at a disproportionate rate, and we are dying at disproportionate rates," said Dr. Delana Wardlaw, with Temple Health.

Redell Crabbe lost his grandmother and a 40-year-old fraternity brother to COVID.

"They have family that depended on them, and they're not here anymore," he said.

Crabbe said his friend contracted the virus handing out laptops to his high school students.

"I am also a COVID survivor. My wife and I had it in July, and we were ill," he said.

Wardlaw said the reasons must be addressed,

"Number one is lack of access to care. COVID has shown that patients who have poorly controlled chronic illnesses are at higher risk for developing complications," she said.

Dr. Eric Schwartz leads the Institute for Urban Care at Capital Health.

"Many families are multi-generational families so we've got multiple families living in one apartment and it's very easy to spread," he said.

He also points to more people of color working essential jobs.

"So there's a greater chance of being infected, they also might not have the ability to take sick time, because they're working, you know, paycheck to paycheck."

Montesdeoca blames the language barrier and a failure to educate the Latino community early on.

"I was looking at it and I was like, 'Okay, this, so this is happening, and we have to take these precautions.' But in Spanish, it came late."
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