Nashville's Latino community concerned it's being left behind in fight against COVID-19

Nashville Hispanic community facing its own impacts of COVID-19
Posted at 10:46 PM, Jan 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-22 23:55:39-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Restaurant owners Hugo Reyes and Ana Recinos say surviving the pandemic means making enough money to get by.

Their three businesses offer Salvadorian cuisine- something unique, but can be easily replaced by nearby fast-food chains where customers can find a quick, contact-less meal. “It’s true, people will try another place or go to a drive-thru,” said Recinos.

At one point, the couple even went without their own paychecks to keep their employees working.

“The truth is what we've tried to do is keep the same salary for all. While it may not be a lot, its enough to cover their necessities so the business can continue and no one loses their job,” she said.

“I think the COVID-19 pandemic has a had a huge impact on the Latino community here in Nashville and in Tennessee,” said Director of Policy and Communications at Conexión Américas, Andrés Martínez. The nonprofit has distributed $1 million in housing assistance and more than $100,000 to help Nashville’s Hispanic businesses stay afloat.

“One of the core parts of Conexión Américas' mission is to build businesses, support budding entrepreneurs because we know the immigrant community has an immense energy to start their own businesses,” said Martínez.

He said some have missed out on everything from COVID testing, to federal aid because of the language barrier.

“I think the fact that there was a lack of translation in certain materials and there was a delay in information getting to that community may have led to increases in cases over the summer.”

Martínez hopes as the city moves forward with recovery, the Latino community isn’t left behind.

“We’re already seeing huge disparities in the rates of people getting vaccinated by their ethnicity, so we can’t afford to leave one community behind because when it happens in that community it’s going to happen to the rest of our communities,” he said.