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U.S. News & World Report interviewed Dr. Michael Rodriguez, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health professor of community health sciences, about how the pandemic has eaten away at the Latino edge in life expectancy.
In December 2020, about 10 months into the COVID-19 pandemic, Javier Perez-Torres boarded a bus from Los Angeles to Tijuana, Mexico, to buy a bracelet for the upcoming birthday of one of the five granddaughters who lived with him and his wife. Perez-Torres, 68, a Mexican immigrant, liked the selection of inexpensive jewelry available in the city just south of the U.S. border, so he made the trek, which lasted more than four hours round-trip.
Perez-Torres wore a mask on the bus. But shortly after he returned to his family’s apartment in the working-class neighborhood of Boyle Heights, just east of downtown Los Angeles, he fell ill with COVID-19. He suffered from a high fever, a hacking cough and body aches. His wife, Alicia Miron, and their five granddaughters also contracted COVID-19, but none became as ill as the patriarch, who ended up at nearby White Memorial hospital.
For more than a month, Miron went to the hospital to see her husband, who’d been intubated. But nurses – following COVID-19 safety protocols – wouldn’t let her in. She’d sit on a bench outside the hospital for hours, then go home, and repeat the process.