DENVER (KDVR) — As we mark the one-year anniversary of COVID-19’s first case in Colorado, one statistic that stands out. It centers on the disproportionate number of Hispanics who who have been impacted by the disease.
Not only do Latinos get sick more often, they often find themselves without a job more frequently.
At El Jardin Mexican Restaurant in Commerce City, now open to indoor dining, the pandemic hit workers hard.
Bartender Janeth Aguirre lost nearly half her wages when indoor dining was not allowed.
“The first thing on my mind is, hopefully we are going to make enough to pay our bills. We also told ourselves we’d have to work a little extra and be thankful because some people do not have jobs,” said Aguirre.
Latinos became the ethnic group with the highest unemployment in the state during the pandemic.
Before COVID, in 2019, the unemployment rate among Hispanics was 3.4%.
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment reports it skyrocketed to 9.6% when the pandemic hit a year later, a higher rate than whites or Blacks.
Luckily, Aguirre was able to keep her job — with reduced wages — as the restaurant invented new ways to stay open.
Owner Ben Martinez said, “One thing that we did was really push the takeout orders and made sure our guests knew we were still open and offered promotions every single day.”
Keeping El Jardin going was a battle as COVID ravaged Latinos across the state.
Hispanics are 22% of Colorado’s population but they make up 27% of the state’s COVID-19 cases.
Many Latinos do not have jobs that allow them to work from home; they must show up in public settings.
At El Jardin, a few workers had COVID, but are well and back at work now.
Everyone at the restaurant is hoping the worst is behind us.
There is a big push now to get members of the minority community vaccinated, but there is still some reluctance.