For 20 years, Mano a Mano (MaM) has served and supported immigrant families in pursuit of their health and wellbeing in this country. One of Mano a Mano’s most important strategies in building health and wellbeing in our community is through health education and outreach through our Community Health Workers (CHWs or promotores de salud as they are known in Spanish).
Mano a Mano’s Community Health Worker model is a peer to peer education model that focuses on building the capacity of average community members in health topics so that they can then educate their family members, neighbors, co-workers, and peers in the community. A traditional model of health education and outreach in Latin America, Community members trust CHWs because they know them, they look like them, they speak their language, and they understand their experience.
Over that past ten months of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Mano a Mano has experienced the disproportionate impact of the twin crises- public health and economic- on Latinos and immigrants in our community. IDPH’s data portal provides the quantitative evidence of this impact.
According to IDPH data (as of 1/6/2021), while Latinos only make up 22% of the total population, Latinos currently make up 30% of all COVID-19 cases in Lake County and only 12% of the tests performed. Earlier in the pandemic, Latinos made up as much as 43% of all cases in Lake County, IL.
This shows that despite very limited testing of Latinos in Lake and McHenry Counties, Latinos still make up a disproportionately percentage of all positive cases when compared with their portion of the overall population.
Furthermore, while isolation has been a universal element of the COVID-19 pandemic for the whole community, immigrant families are further isolated impacted by the shutdowns because to a certain extent- they were already socially isolated before the pandemic. Now, many have been out of work for almost a year and have depended on Mano a Mano to support them morally and financially as they navigate life-threatening illness, joblessness, impending homelessness, resulting mental health issues, draconian immigration laws, and an uncertain future. Mano a Mano's COVID-19 Response Project formed in response to a socially isolated community's need for trustworthy information, information in their own language and understanding of their cultures and families, and resources to prevent, test, and treat this highly contagious disease.
Mano a Mano’s CHWs are working throughout Lake and McHenry Counties to educate, connect, and support immigrant community members as they continue to navigate the pandemic. Our CHWs are also working with community members to register for the vaccines administered by our local health departments.
For more information about the COVID-19 Project, contact Health Education and Outreach Program Manager, Diana Gutierrez.