The 31-year-old has to pause to catch her breath, carries a can of oxygen with her wherever she goes, and walks with a cane — all of this since she contracted Covid-19 in May.
Her doctors told her that one side of her heart is now larger than the other, she says, but her heart is also broken after losing her father to the virus. His girlfriend also died, leaving their five young children without parents.
“I have no balance in my body,” Ruelas told CNN. “It’s hard for me to breathe, I can’t walk for too long without running out of breath. I have to constantly check my oxygen — something I would never even think of before. It sometimes drops so low, I feel like I’m breathing through a straw. Now I even have trouble sleeping. That was never an issue before. I just can’t do anything without help.”
Ruelas’ experience mirrors that of many other Latinos across the US, who have been disproportionately affected by coronavirus.
According to Johns Hopkins University, racial and ethnic information is only available for about 35% of all deaths in the United States, but even in that small percentage it is evident that Latinx Americans are unevenly impacted by the coronavirus in some regions. In fact, across the West, Latinos are bearing the brunt of the pandemic.
Los Angeles County, where Ruelas lives, has the highest number of cases and deaths. Again, the majority are Latinos.
Latinos are ‘significant portion’ of essential workforce
In every county in the state, Latinos are the most severely impacted by the virus, said Dr. Gil Chavez, an epidemiologist and co-chair of California’s Covid-19 testing task force — a position that pulled him back to work two months into his retirement.
“Latinos have some of the known factors for having really increased cases and having more bad cases than other members of the population,” Dr. Chavez told CNN. “We have very high rates of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and some of the immunocompromised conditions (like) obesity (and) smoking.”
These trends highlight historical issues for Latinos, not just in California but nationwide, such as social disparities in terms of financial opportunities, health care access and utilization.
“The shifting surge in outbreaks to the…
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