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2021 Topical Reporting, Pandemic Coverage, Single Story finalist

Scars of the Pandemic

About the Project

The coronavirus pandemic made the social inequalities that already existed in the United States even more evident and profound. The mere fact of being Latino during the coronavirus crisis has had grave consequences: Latinos have been infected at much higher rates and have suffered the most from the economic consequences of the pandemic.

From New York, the first epicenter of the pandemic in the US, to Florida, the coronavirus strongly impacted areas where large communities of Latinos live. These communities have historically been more vulnerable compared to other groups. They tend to be poorer, have less access to high quality education and healthcare and be employed in what are considered “essential jobs,” putting them at higher risk of exposure. By August, for example, Hispanics in Florida made up 44% of cases, despite being 25% of the population.

An analysis of the data available through September 2020 showed that Latinos face a greater challenge in this crisis with an average of 1,984 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the US, followed by the African Americans with 1,889 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and similar socioeconomic conditions.

In this project we focused on Allapattah, a neighborhood in Miami that had high levels of poverty even before the pandemic hit. The virus had a profound impact on its community, as illustrated by some of the characters we encountered: an undocumented woman who contracted covid-19 because she was unable to stop working; a father of five children who lost his job and couldn’t sleep because he didn’t know how he was going to afford the food to feed them; a small businessman who had to close part of his business losing years of work. In spite of tremendous suffering, however, the community’s commitment to solidarity and resilience is also at the very heart of Allapattah. We witnessed, and aimed to capture in this project, how the most vulnerable coped with the pandemic, including many who didn’t have the possibility to work from home, and who live paycheck by paycheck or day to day.

The stress caused by the lack of financial resources also affected the mental health of many members of the community, as well as that of their children. By the time of publication of this project, 55% of Latinos had reported feeling sad, depressed or hopeless. The psychological and emotional effects of the pandemic will be long-lasting.

In order to effectively capture all these testimonies and the data to contextualize them, this multimedia project includes different tools like dynamic maps, graphs, photos, text and two short documentaries. We used this array of tools to help our audience understand the magnitude and depth of the crisis faced by Latinos in Allapattah.

Even though we focused on a very specific community, the stories we found in Allapattah are the reflection of the stories of millions of Latinos across the country and illustrate the universal challenges that the pandemic has created.