Staying Safe Until It’s Your Turn to Get the Vaccine
March 11, 2021 No Comments COVID, COVID, The Latest LPOC Organization

A virtual visit is an excellent way to consult with your doctor if you have a concern, you want to ask questions, or you want the doctor to evaluate you if you have symptoms.

The following is an article and interview featuring LPOC Board Member Dr. James Cruz on the topic of staying healthy until vaccines are widely available.

Senior Medical Director James Cruz of Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan offers advice to the Latinx community about how to stay safe until fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Dr. Cruz proudly identifies as a member of the Latinx community.  

Dr. Cruz says to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, it is very important that people continue to wear a mask, wash their hands frequently, and maintain social distance — and to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it’s your turn.  

Below, he answers some questions about how Latinxs can protect themselves from COVID-19.

Q. Why are Latinxs most affected by COVID-19 in California?  

The Latinx community in California is the group with the highest number of infections, hospitalizations and deaths related to COVID-19. There are several reasons for this. The first is that Latinxs tend to live in multigenerational households, with grandparents, uncles and cousins all living together in the same house – so if one household member gets sick, it can be difficult to prevent the spread to others who are living in the same home. 

The second reason is that many Latinxs are essential workers, who cannot work remotely, and are more likely to encounter the virus from interacting with coworkers and customers.

There is also stigma in the Latinx community that someone who has COVID-19 is a danger to the family or community. As a result, someone may be afraid to acknowledge that they have a fever, a cough, or that they have lost their sense of smell or taste.

Legal status and immigration concerns also prevent many Latinxs to seek medical help. If they have a green card or are in the process of getting one, they fear that if they receive medical care, it will negatively affect their record. The undocumented fear that sharing their information in order to get tested or vaccinated may be used to deport them.  

Q. For multigenerational families who live together, how should they be safe and protect themselves when they have a family member who has COVID-19?

This is a challenge, but it is very important to be mindful and follow the advice of Dr. Anthony Fauci and President Biden’s Coronavirus Task Force: wear a mask properly, over the nose and the mouth. If you live with relatives who work outside the home and interact with others, you should wear a mask at home, wash hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds, and maintain social distance. Stay home as much as possible. If you live with relatives who go outside infrequently – only to the grocery store or the pharmacy – you don’t need to wear a mask at home.

If a member of your family is infected with the virus, keep as much space as possible. Keep at least six feet apart. The sick person should wear a mask and have only one person in the household take care of them. The rest of the family needs to wear a mask at home and wash hands often with soap and water and keep distance of six feet away. These recommendations should be followed even if you are outdoors.

Q. What is your advice for family gatherings?

For the most current information, refer to websites like the county health department and local health officials.  In general, you should refrain from interacting with individuals who are not part of your everyday household. It is probably best not to go to a birthday party or even a funeral because even if you wear PPE (personal protective equipment), it could be challenging to maintain social distancing and to refrain from hugging and touching your relatives. 

Q. What is your recommendation for safety at work if you can’t work remotely?

You need to request PPE from your employer and use it properly. Depending on the type of work that you do, your employer should provide a mask, a face shield, a gown, and gloves. If your employer does not provide PPE, consider purchasing a mask and other personal protective devices to protect yourself. It’s also very important that you stay six feet away from other people – both coworkers and customers – when you are at the workplace. 

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