UnidosUS Virtual Town Hall
The Unequal Impact of COVID-19 on the Latino Community



On Wednesday, April 22, more than 700 people tuned in to our virtual town hall “The Unequal Impact of COVID-19 on the Latino Community,” where UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía was joined by Dr. Richard Besser, President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Representative Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus; and moderator Alicia Menendez, MSNBC anchor.

In an engaging and fascinating conversation, Murguía started the town hall by speaking about the disparities that the Hispanic community faced before this health crisis, and how this pandemic has now revealed them. She also emphasized the essential role Latinos and immigrants are playing being at the frontlines of this pandemic and supporting all Americans, and how our community is being left out of the relief packages coming from Congress.

“The lack of health care is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the systemic inequities that made this crisis so much harder and so much more deadly on communities of color, including the Latino community,” Murguía noted. “They include higher levels of poverty, less wealth, more food insecurity, less access to mental health services, more crowded living conditions, and less access to broadband and other technology.”

Dr. Richard Besser was asked about the current state of COVID-19, what we know and what we don’t about the virus, the latest guidelines to stay safe and healthy, and how does it look to go back to normal. “Viruses don’t respect borders, and viruses do not respect walls,” Dr. Besser said explaining how the virus arrived in the United States and it spread at different rates in different places. “Unfortunately, we have learned that in America not everyone has the same opportunity to protect themselves, their families, and their communities,” he continued, adding a lot of valuable information to the discussion.

virtual town hall panelists

As new relief packages are being negotiated in Congress, Representative Joaquin Castro, from the 20th District of Texas, also brought a very important perspective to the town hall, explaining resources available to help families makes ends meet. He spoke about what he’s hearing in his district, which is 64% Hispanic: people reluctant to go to the hospital because they are fearful of testing positive and getting stuck with a huge medical bill.

He highlighted programs that can provide relief to families, including in the areas of food security, health care and unemployment benefits. You can learn more about what the CARES Act includes and what it means for the Latino community from the health, education, jobs and housing, and immigration perspectives in our video series “UnidosUS: Explaining COVID-19 Relief for Latino Families.”

Moderator Alicia Menendez, MSNBC anchor, focused the conversation on topics that our community is most worried about (what the relief package means for mixed-status families, rent and mortgage payments, going to the doctor’s being undocumented, among many others), and took very interesting—and sometimes hard—questions from the audience.

At the end of the virtual town hall, Murguía shared some final thoughts and we shared a list of actionable items and resources available to the audience:

  • Stay Safe and Healthy
    • Stay home, if you can
    • Follow CDC guidelines: use masks, hand sanitizer, wash your hands
    • Practice physical distancing, but still check-in with family members, friends and neighbors
  • Advocate
    • Reach out to your members of Congress to ensure our community is included in future COVID-19 relief packages
    • If you have not already, register to vote here and participate in this year’s elections.
    • You can make your voice heard by filling out the Census as well, which you can do online, by phone or by mail.

Please share this virtual town hall with your family and anyone you consider would find it useful. You can also get the most up-to-date information about COVID-19 following UnidosUS across all social media platforms at @WeAreUnidosUS.

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