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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

Chicano Federation says San Diego reopening puts Latinos at risk

The CEO of nonprofit Chicano Federation said many of the families it represents are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Some critics say an accelerated phase two reopening is too much too soon. One San Diego group is worried the move could fuel a second wave of coronavirus illnesses and put more vulnerable groups, like the Latino community, at risk.

Chicano Federation CEO Nancy Maldonado said reopening San Diego's economy could prove to be drastic for the Latino community.

“Latinos are still going to be out there on the front lines risking themselves to exposure. [It's] a little shocking to us that we're moving forward with such an accelerated rate of reopening without thinking about these inequities and what has led to them and how we are going to address them,”  Maldonado said.

Maldonado added “reopening isn't everything, we need to keep the human aspect of this at the forefront of a reopening.”

Her nonprofit has been serving the Chicano community for 51 years and she said many of the families it represents are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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She said San Diego's Latino community has been hit the hardest by COVID-19 with county numbers showing Latinos account for 60% of coronavirus cases.

"This isn't a coincidence, we know that historical inequities exist, and not just in our county, but across the state and across the country,” Maldonado said.

The Chicano Federation Chief Strategy Officer Roberto Alcantar said policy-makers must address the disparities in Latinos' access to healthcare, educational opportunities, and technology skills.

"We're also continuing to make recommendations to the federal government, there's ongoing bills that are coming forward that are focused on the recovery, so we continue to have meetings with Congress,” Alcantar said.

The group said it's the low wage critical workers most at risk in a re-opening.

“I personally have heard from parents who are having to choose between keeping their families safe from exposure or a paycheck, I've heard from families who are worried about exposure because they share homes with multiple relatives or roommates due to the lack of affordable housing options in this county,” Maldonado said.

Maldonado said the Chicano Federation is calling on all businesses and elected officials to ensure that those who are being required to return to work are being afforded all the protections necessary to keep their families safe.