CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services awarded five organizations, including the Latin American Coalition of Charlotte, a $100,000 grant to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the Latinx community.
Cris Cano works at The People’s Coin Laundry in East Charlotte.
There are signs around the laundromat directing people to wear their masks or wait outside but she says some people are still reluctant.
“To all the Hispanic community, I want to say you need to protect yourself. You need to wear a mask. You need to be conscious of your health so that you can protect yourself and other people,” Cano said in Spanish.
More than a third of the coronavirus cases in Mecklenburg County is in the Hispanic population.
Executive Director of the Latin American Coalition of Charlotte Jose Hernandez-Paris said he is not surprised by the high numbers since many Latin Americans work in essential industries like construction or the service industry.
“I could see they were not being protected and given masks, and I was starting to see a trend and it worried me,” Hernandez-Paris said.
Hernandez-Paris said few frontline workers in the Hispanic community wore masks due to misinformation, employers not providing or requiring masks, and the idea of machismo culture.
“We have this male culture of strong guy that can overcome anything, and this is not going to affect me and minimizing the impact,” Hernandez-Perez said.
Frontline workers who contracted the coronavirus on the job brought it back to their families where the virus spread further.
Hernandez-Perez said the nonprofit will use the $100,000 grant to bring masks directly to frontline workers.
“Directly in construction sites and directly with employers to go beyond the message of wearing a mask. This is a community that has to work, and we need them to work, but we also need them to stay safe,” Hernandez-Perez said.
In addition to providing masks and education about the virus, the coalition will provide support to those already infected with COVID-19. For example, Hernandez-Perez said they will provide COVID Kits to patients who have tested positive.
“How can we give you paper plates and forks and guides that are simple to understand that tell you how to quarantine once you’re home so you don’t infect the rest of your family,” Hernandez-Perez said.
The Latin American Coalition of Charlotte has been in the Charlotte community for 30 years. The organization helps immigrants assimilate in Charlotte. Services such as English classes, Citizenship Classes, and job opportunities are offered at the facility on Central Avenue in East Charlotte.
Hernandez-Perez says they are offering services virtually and by-appointment-only during the COVID-19 pandemic.