California's Uneven Toll of Covid-19

We remember those who are lost during Dia de Muertos (or Day of the Dead).

California's Uneven Toll of Covid-19

The community center was filled with the celebratory music of a mariachi band. Bright orange marigold blossoms were evident on almost every surface.

Two types of masks were seen in San Diego at the recent Dia de Muertos Event: black and white faces to resemble skulls, as well as the more familiar type -- cloth covers to stop the spread of coronavirus.

We are now dealing with an unfathomable, staggering loss from the virus that we have been living with for almost two years. Five million people died worldwide from Covid-19 on Monday.

California's pandemic has given Dia de Muertos (also known as Day of the Dead) a particular, tragic significance.

Covid-19 has claimed the lives of more than 32,000 Latinos, making it the most deadly race or ethnicity group in California.

Naimeh Woodward is the president of Encinitas Friends of the Arts. She told me that this year's Dia de Muertos celebration was "really relevant more than ever."

Dia de Muertos ceremonies honor and remember the dead. They are usually held around Nov. 1 or 2, All Saints' Day, and All Souls Day according to the Catholic calendar. This holiday is well-known in Mexico and has seen a rise in popularity in the United States. The Pixar film "Coco" in 2017 added to its popularity.

The tables were lined with colorful candles, painted skulls and fresh and printed flowers. Framed photos of smiling faces were also available at the Encinitas event. These altars or ofrendas are intended to tempt loved ones who have passed to return briefly to the land of living.

I saw ofrendas decorated with sweetbreads and Tecate cans. The spirits are further attracted by bouquets and garlands of brilliant marigolds.

Beatriz Villarreal, a Mexican-American who grew up in Mexico City, said, "If you don’t put that photo there, that means that you forget about them. So that’s why every year, you have to keep them in your mind so they can bless you." "My father was a huge fan of whiskey and chocolate so I gave him a small bottle of whiskey and some chocolate.

California's largest ethnic group is Latinos (39 percent), but their contribution to Covid-19 deaths (45%) is higher, especially among younger generations. This is also true across the country.

According to The Los Angeles Times, Sixty-six per cent of California's 18-to-34-year-olds who died from Covid-19 were Latino. However, Latinos make up only 45 percent of California's population. Contrary, the death rate for this age group is only 12 percent for white Californians.

There are many reasons for this: Latinos are more likely not to have access to quality medical care, to work in remote areas, and to live in multigenerational, crowded homes that allow the virus to spread easily.

The pandemic will continue for as long as the mortality gap, and it may even get worse. Latinos have seen a decline in the number of Covid-19 vaccines over recent months.

California's pandemic has had a devastating impact on all California communities. It is far greater than what we could have expected back in March 2020. California has seen more than 70,000 deaths due to Covid-19 in the last month.

This is the kind of destruction that can be expected in both war and natural disasters. We are now facing a terrible grief that will be felt for many years, possibly on Dia de Muertos.

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