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Fight to protect Latino workers as positive COVID-19 cases rise among community

Latino leaders are concerned about the growing number of cases among workers.

DALLAS COUNTY, Texas — Dallas County released new numbers Tuesday broken down by ethnicity. It shows that Latinos make up the highest percentage of positive COVID-19 cases. 

Of the 1,155 cases in Dallas County, 275 or 24% are Hispanic, 229 or 20% are white, 214 or 19% are African Americans, 24 or 2% are Asian, 8 or 15% are listed as other and 405 or 35% are not reported.

There is growing concern among Latino leaders. They say many Latinos are still out working construction, street repairs, stocking grocery stores and cleaning buildings. 

But are they being protected against COVID-19? 

"They are front line heroes, but they are not being treated as essential workers, and that is something that needs to change immediately,” said Domingo Garcia, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens.

Garcia provided WFAA pictures from a meat packing plant where workers, predominantly Latino, were lined up to work without protective gear in order to keep grocery stores stocked with meat.

"They can't work from home. They have to be out there on the job sites, wherever that is. They are being exposed to the virus and getting sick,” said Garcia.

And some community leaders say many of these workers don't have health insurance or sick time if they do get sick, so they keeping working.

“Whether it’s a roofer or a construction worker, they are out there trying to figure it out, because they have a family to feed,” Adan Gonzalez, Si Se Puede founder. 

And Latino leaders say part of the culture, especially among immigrants, is to work and not complain, so they don't get what they need. 

"Our papas, mamas, our grandmothers, cousins are still out there not complaining. They are out their contributing to our great nation,” said Gonzalez.

Garcia said the CDC did not start distributing critical information in Spanish until March when LULAC filed a complaint. LULAC has also filed a complaint with OSHA to force all employers to follow the CDC guidelines and provide protective gear and a safe environment for all.

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