She’s patrolled the Navajo Nation for nearly 20 years. Nothing prepared her for the COVID-19 outbreak
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Officer Tallsalt standing next to her car and a cross looking into the distance

The Navajo Nation patrol car pulled up to the jail near the center of town and Officer Carolyn Tallsalt stepped out. She adjusted her surgical mask, pressing the edges so they sealed against her cheeks, then flung open the door to the back seat where there was a woman in handcuffs.

A jail guard proceeded to pepper the woman, arrested for disturbing the peace, with questions.

Have you been in contact with anyone known to have coronavirus? Have you contracted the virus yourself? Do you have a fever or body aches?

“No, no, no,” the mask-less woman mumbled, before coughing twice into the open air. Tallsalt stepped back.

The guard placed a temperature gun to the woman’s forehead — 95.8, a few degrees lower than the average body temperature. Cleared to go inside, the woman walked to the side entrance, escorted by Tallsalt. That routine process, which Tallsalt has performed countless times in a nearly 20-year career, carries a stressful new weight during the COVID-19 outbreak. At the start of each shift, she thinks the same thing: I hope I am not exposed today.

More than a dozen fellow Navajo Nation officers have contracted the virus along with thousands of residents of the sprawling reservation.

“My anxiety is out of control,” Tallsalt, 53, said on a recent afternoon. “You don’t know who has it.”

Since mid-March, when the novel coronavirus began to spread like a brush fire on the dry, remote 27,000-square-mile reservation, daily patrols for the nearly 200 Navajo Nation officers have transformed into an exhausting mix of stress and overwhelming sadness.

Here on the Navajo Nation — spanning portions of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah — nearly everyone knows at least one victim of the deadly virus.

Continue Reading the Full Article at the Los Angeles’ Times Website

US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez visits Houston after raising millions for Texas relief
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U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has raised millions of dollars in relief money for Texas relief organizations that are working to help those still in need after suffering from the historic winter storm.

The New York lawmaker appeared Saturday at the Houston Food Bank to help distribute supplies and food.

Ocasio-Cortez’s effort is in partnership with 12 Texas organizations getting on-the-ground relief to residents.

She set up the donation website to where contributions will be split evenly between the following the organizations: South Texas Food Bank, Food Bank of West Central Texas, ECHO (Ending Community Homelessness Coalition), Feeding Texas, Corazon Ministries, Family Eldercare, Houston Food Bank, Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley, North Texas Food Bank, Central Texas Food Bank, Southeast Texas Food Bank, and The Bridge Homeless Recovery Center.

“These groups are working around the clock to assist houseless, hungry and senior Texans in Travis and Dallas County, and beyond,” the website states.

Ocasio-Cortez hasn’t been the only leader stepping up to the plate. Astros’ Alex Bregman will be hosting a water distribution event Saturday to help those who have been without water for days.

Read the original article at  ABC 7.

Demi Lovato reveals in new YouTube doc that she had 3 strokes and a heart attack
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Close up of Demi Lovato with studio keyboard in the background

By Nardine Saad

Never one to shy away from the intimate details of her personal life, singer Demi Lovato is laying it on the table in a new documentary, “Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil.”

And like hotel heiress Paris Hilton and singer Justin Bieber before her, Lovato’s YouTube Originals release sees the “Barney & Friends” alum readily sharing what really happened when she was treated for a drug overdose in July 2018 and how it left her with brain damage.

“I’ve had so much to say over the past two years, wanting to set the record straight about what it was that happened,” she says in the trailer for the four-part documentary, which debuts March 23. The trailer dropped Wednesday during the virtual Television Critics Assn. press tour.

“FYI, I’m just going to say it all, and if we don’t want to use any of it, we can take it out,” the “Confident” singer adds. “Any time that you suppress a part of yourself, it’s gonna overflow.”

Lovato, 28, who has publicly struggled with her sobriety and physical and mental health, revealed in the trailer that she’d had three strokes and a heart attack. She said her doctors told her she had “five to 10 more minutes” to live when she was hospitalized for two weeks before entering an in-patient rehab facility.

She survived, of course, and told interviewers that, like her cat, she’d had a lot of lives and now she was on her “ninth life.”

In a video call Wednesday, Lovato told the Associated Press that she still was dealing with the effects: “I don’t drive a car because I have blind spots in my vision. For a long time, I had a really hard time reading. It was a big deal when I was able to read a book, which was, like, two months later, because my vision was so blurry.”

But her endurance is surprising to those around her.

Continue on to the LA Times to read the complete article.

Air Force Orders New Review Into Racial, Ethnic Disparities
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The Air Force inspector general will do a second investigation into racial and ethnic disparities across the force, service leaders said Friday, expanding the review to include gender and additional racial categories such as Asian and American Indian.

The latest review comes just two months after the IG released a report concluding that Black service members in the Air Force are far more likely to be investigated, arrested, face disciplinary actions and be discharged for misconduct. The December report found that “racial disparity exists” for Black service members but that the data did not explain why it happens.

The new study also reflects broader campaigns within the Defense Department and the Biden administration to root out extremism and racism. President Joe Biden declared domestic extremism an urgent national security threat in the wake of the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The crowd that breached the building as lawmakers were preparing to certify the election was overwhelmingly white and included members of far-right groups.

Acting Air Force Secretary John Roth, who ordered the latest review, said the IG will go directly to Air Force and Space Force service members for input. A survey that will go out to the force soon will look at several different categories: Asian, American Indian/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, and gender.

Read the full article at HuffPost.

Bill Gates Says it Will Take Latin America 6 to 12 months Longer Than The U.S. to Control COVID-19
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Bill Gates in a gray sweater library background

In an interview about his latest book and several other pressing issues, Bill Gates sounded especially concerned when I asked him about the slow pace of COVID-19 vaccination in Latin America and other parts of the developing world.

The Microsoft founder and mega-philanthropist, whose Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has donated more than $1 billion to help combat the coronavirus pandemic especially in developing countries, told me that in the best case scenario the vaccines will control the virus in Latin America six months after the United States. But he cautioned that the delay could be much longer, perhaps of up to 12 months.

If things go well with the AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax vaccines, “the inequity will be about a six-month” delay. “If things don’t go well with those vaccines, it could be nine to twelve months,” he said.

Gates lamented that, under the Trump administration, the United States failed to support the World Health Organization’s COVAX global vaccination program to help developing countries get 2 billion COVID-19 vaccines by the end of this year.

While president, Donald Trump withdrew from the WHO, and did not contribute funds for the COVAX program. His measures were strongly criticized by the scientific community, because you can’t defeat a pandemic if the rest of the world gets infected.

In addition, “the previous administration said that every American should have a vaccine before a single vaccine gets out of the country, which, you know, I don’t agree with,” Gates told me.

Fortunately, the Biden administration’s $900 billion COVID relief package includes $4 billion for the COVAX initiative, and “we encourage the Congress to finally show up to help the global effort,” Gates said. He added that “the Biden administration is very engaged in saying no, it’s not just America.”

Read the full article at Miami Herald.

Alejandro Mayorkas Confirmed As First Immigrant, Latino To Head Homeland Security
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Alejandro Mayorkas during a speech wearing a black suit

The Senate voted to confirm Alejandro Mayorkas as the secretary of Homeland Security, putting a department veteran at the helm of the Biden administration’s plans to reverse hard-line policies implemented by former president Donald Trump.

KEY FACTS

Born in Cuba and raised in California, Mayorkas is the first Latino and immigrant to lead the Department of Homeland Security.

The confirmation comes as President Joe Biden seeks to undo four years of a “zero tolerance” approach toward immigration under the Trump administration.

Mayorkas was confirmed 56-43, mostly along party lines. He was the first Biden nominee to face a filibuster from Republicans, which the Senate voted to break on Thursday.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

The Biden administration is expected on Tuesday evening to announce a Homeland Security Department task force aimed at reuniting migrant children who have been separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

KEY BACKGROUND

Mayorkas will grapple with a Homeland Security Department that has been plagued by high turnover in leadership positions and vacancies. A Senate-confirmed appointee has not led the department since Trump pushed Kirstjen Nielsen out in 2019. Mayorkas will also face domestic security threats that have come to light following the Jan. 6 insurrection led by Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol. In a memo released last week, the Department of Homeland Security warned “ideologically-motivated violent extremists” could “continue to mobilize or incite violence.”

CHIEF CRITIC

Several Republican senators lambasted Mayorkas ahead of the confirmation hearing, raising alarm about his time as the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. A 2015 DHS Inspector General Report found that Mayorkas appeared to give politically powerful individuals special access to an investor visa program. “I’ve voted for several of President Biden’s mainstream cabinet nominees,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wrote on Twitter early Tuesday. “But his choice to run Homeland Security was blasted by the Obama Administration’s own Inspector General for running an immigration law favor factory for powerful Democrats. Bad pick with major ethics issues.”

Read the original article at Forbes.

Some Latino Groups More Wary of Covid Vaccine, so Messaging Needs to be Tailored
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close up shot of Latina nurse administering COVID vaccine to a patient

Experts are urging Biden administration officials to better understand the source behind Covid-19 vaccine skepticism across different Latino communities to improve vaccine rollout strategies nationwide.

Surveys have found an “element of fear and mistrust” about the vaccine, but such fears manifest differently across different Latino subgroups, according to researchers Gabriel Sanchez and Juan Peña in a Brookings Institution analysis published Monday.

At least 28 percent of all Latinos surveyed by the Latino advocacy nonprofit UnidosUS in October reported that they were unlikely to get vaccinated for Covid-19. Latinos of Puerto Rican and Mexican origins were the most likely to report they would not get vaccinated, overwhelmingly citing concerns over potential negative long-term health effects and side effects from the vaccine, according to disaggregated data from the UnidosUS survey.

“Given that Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans are the two largest national origin groups among Latinos, with roughly 41 million Latinos from these groups living in the United States, this is a significant concern for the ability the reach the goal of herd immunity through high rates of vaccine uptake across the population,” Sanchez and Peña said.

Over a third of all Latinas surveyed by UnidosUS stated they will likely not get vaccinated, compared to 22 percent of Latino men.

“This gender gap in the likelihood of vaccination identifies how important it will be to conduct more in-depth research with the Latino population and to better understand what is driving fear and concerns about the vaccine to help devise solutions,” Sanchez and Peña said.

While President Joe Biden “has taken an important first step” by establishing a Covid-19 Health Equity Task Force within the Department of Health and Human Services, Sanchez and Peña said more needs to be done in order to improve trust in the vaccine among Latinos.

Read the full article at NBC News.

Latino Inaugural 2021 celebrates the resilience and power of U.S. Latinos ahead of Biden’s inauguration
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Latino Inaugural 2021 poster Biden and Harris

By Brittany Valentine for Al Dia News

To commemorate the upcoming Inauguration of the Biden-Harris administration, the Hispanic Federation has brought together more than 50 Latino organizations to support the historic event.

“Latino Inaugural 2021: Inheritance, Resilience & Promise” is part of the official five-day slate of programming from the Biden-Harris Presidential Inauguration Committee.

Latino Inaugural 2021 is an hour-long special that will

(Image Credit – latinoinaugural.org)

feature musical performances and inspirational docu-shorts to uplift the Latino community and portray all the contributions they have made in this country.

Actress and activist, Eva Longoria Bastón is set to host the event, and many more big stars will make appearances, including Becky G, Ivy Queen, Rita Moreno, and Edward James Olmos.

There is also an impressive list of musical performances.

Lin-Manuel and Luis Miranda will perform a touching tribute to Puerto Rico, All-Star Tejanos United will perform “America The Beautiful,” and Gaby Moreno and David Garza will perform “Fronteras.”

Much like the “Momento Latino” televised event that aired on CBS in October, this special is focused on telling the stories of Latino excellence, resilience and strength. It will honor members of Latino communities who kept the country running smoothly during the pandemic as members of the frontline essential workforce.

In addition to the celebrity guests and musical performances, several political figures will be in attendance. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto, Robert Menendez and Ben Ray Luján, Senator designate Alex Padilla and Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Rep. Raul Ruiz will join the special to add to the messages of hope, unity and gratitude.

Henry R. Muñoz III, founder of Momento Latino and executive producer of the program, expressed his excitement at welcoming the new administration..

“Latino communities face existential threats every day – from the disproportionate spread of COVID-19 through our communities, to the requirement that we work essential jobs without essential benefits, to the fear of our democracy falling apart and the constant threat of deportation and family separation. We are gathering to celebrate Latinos’ contributions & our power in the country and to honor the next era of American leadership in President Biden and Vice President Harris,” he said.

The program is co-hosted by 52 of the country’s largest and most influential Latino organizations, including Voto Latino, She Se Puede, Justice for Migrant Women and the Dolores Huerta Foundation. Some of the sponsors include DoorDash, Telemundo, Comcast NBCUniversal, Microsoft and Primo TV.

Read the full article at Al Dia News.

Alex Padilla, California’s First Latino Senator, on Needing to ‘Walk and Chew Gum’ in Washington
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Alex Padilla wearing a black suit sitting down speaking into a microphone

By The New York Times

He was appointed to fill Kamala Harris’s seat and will take office as his state struggles with record Covid rates, especially in the neighborhood he grew up in.

As Kamala Harris steps into her role as vice president and out of her Senate office this week, the Democrat Alex Padilla will become the first Latino senator from California, a state where Latino residents make up 40 percent of the population, and will be one of six in the Senate. Mr. Padilla, who has been California’s secretary of state since 2015, is heading to Washington at a time when the country — and California — is deeply mired in the pandemic and a sluggish vaccine rollout. His own political career began with

(Image Credit -Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

immigration activism, and he believes that the country needs a pathway to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants. He said he was confident that the Senate would be able to focus on an impeachment trial and the pressing need to get the pandemic under control — “we will walk and chew gum at the same time.”

These are lightly edited excerpts from the conversation.

California is roughly 40 percent Latino, yet you’re the first Latino senator from the state. Why do you think that took so long? What does it say about California and the political influence of Latinos?

I don’t know if I have a 170-year answer to that question, but it’s a big moment for the Latino community in California. I’m sure there’s a lot of researchers and academics with various theories. I just know that it has just added to the sense of urgency with which I’m prepared to tackle the job.

A lot of big issues need attention — increasing access to health care, combating climate change, a comprehensive immigration reform, closing the education gap. But for the time being, it’s all through the lens of Covid, in recognition of the devastation the damage has caused for far too many families, far too many communities, especially Latino communities and other communities of color.

Let’s talk about the pandemic. Los Angeles is currently an epicenter of the pandemic, and Pacoima, the neighborhood you grew up in, is an epicenter of that epicenter. What can the Senate do about that?

Read the full article at The New York Times.

In Minority Communities, Doctors Are Changing Minds About Vaccination
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two black women waiting in line outside buiding waiting for vaccination

Many Black and Hispanic Americans mistrust government officials, and instead have turned to physicians they have long known.

Like many Black and rural Americans, Denese Rankin, a 55-year-old retired bookkeeper and receptionist in Castleberry, Ala., did not want the Covid-19 vaccine.

Ms. Rankin worried about side effects — she had seen stories on social media about people developing Bell’s palsy, for example, after they were vaccinated. She thought the vaccines had come about too quickly to be safe. And she worried that the vaccinations might turn out to be  (Image Credit – The New York Times)                                      another example in the government’s long history of medical experimentation on Black people.

Then, one recent weekend, her niece, an infectious disease specialist at Emory University in Atlanta, came to town. Dr. Zanthia Wiley said one of her goals in making the trip was to talk to friends and family back home in Alabama, letting them hear the truth about the vaccines from someone they knew, someone who is Black.

Across the country, Black and Hispanic physicians like Dr. Wiley are reaching out to Americans in minority communities who are suspicious of Covid-19 vaccines and often mistrustful of the officials they see on television telling them to get vaccinated. Many are dismissive of public service announcements, the doctors say, and of the federal government.

Continue to the original article at The New York Times. 

Hispanic and Latino health and the Affordable Care Act
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The ACA has narrowed racial gaps in access to health care, but Latinos are still nearly three times more likely to be uninsured.

As a little girl, I would accompany my immigrant mother to her numerous doctor’s appointments; I didn’t know it, but at the time, she was fighting a brain tumor. By the tender age of 7, I had translated most medical terminology from English to Spanish; see, my mother did not speak any English and when she went to the doctor’s office, I was her tiny translator, not that I knew much, but I tried my best.

By the time I was 13, I understood what was happening to my mother and knew how to discuss her symptoms with all her physicians, including neurologists and radiologists. I had my mom buy me a Spanish-to-English medical dictionary and became well-versed in the processes that happen at every one of my mother’s appointments: blood pressure check, weight check, neurological tests. When I moved out of my parent’s home at the age of 24, she stopped going to her doctor’s appointments regularly and chose which doctors she “felt” like going to at the time. I have heard all of the excuses in the book: “I don’t know if they will have an interpreter,” “I feel fine, why do I need to go?” and the most recent one, “I don’t have the money to go to the doctor.”

Read the full article at Benefits Pro.

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