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“When this gets complicated, what am I going to do?”

By Margaux Austin | December 11, 2020 | 2 min read | Coronavirus, Community Health

Woman leans over apartment balcony and smiles

Camila remembers clearly the day her husband tested positive for COVID-19.

“We didn’t know then where he got it, because there were so many cases that weekend. It seems like a thousand positive cases on that weekend. We didn’t know where or how. Then, 4 days later, I tested positive.”

Finding out Camila and her husband both had COVID-19 was a shock. Having four kids in the house — a sixteen-year-old, a six-year-old and three-year-old twins — only made things more complicated.

“What we used to do, like put them to sleep at night, read them a story, we couldn’t do it,” said Camila, whose name we’ve changed to protect the family’s privacy. “They knew we were there, but we couldn’t go out or have contact with them. That was the hardest part for us those two weeks. The days passed slowly. The only thing we could do was to see them through the window playing and nothing else, because we couldn’t get near them.”

Camila described her COVID symptoms as strong, like a pain her body has never experienced before. For her though, it was even more painful to not be with her four children. She knew they were scared and didn’t understand why they had to stay away.

“Our 16-year-old daughter took care of them during the two weeks we were in quarantine. They didn’t understand. They came to the door every day, knocking and looking for Dad: ‘Come, we want to play,’ but we couldn’t. So they cried at the door, to the point that they would sometimes fall asleep there waiting for us to come out of the room. They needed us.”

It was a scary and confusing time. Camila worried about her children and their future if something were to happen to her or her husband.

“Many people don’t mention that it’s not only the pain that one feels, it’s not only the symptoms that you feel, but it’s something that attacks you psychologically. You’re not in good spirits. You have no strength and at night, in the early morning, you’re short of breath. So many times, I thought, ‘When this gets complicated, what am I going to do?’”

The CDC reports that Latino people, including Camila and her family, are 2.8 times more likely to get COVID-19 than white, non-Hispanic populations. They’re also 4.6 times more likely to be hospitalized because of the virus. These communities face greater health disparities that put them at higher risk for the disease. Many work in essential job functions that may increase their exposure to the virus, and they are also more likely to lack health insurance.

To help combat this disparity, Blue Cross NC teamed up with the American Heart Association to support their program, Promotores de Salud. The program trains community ambassadors on the dangers of cardiovascular disease, a condition that may increase risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms. With Blue Cross NC’s investment, the American Heart Association was able to expand its educational resources to include the prevention and management of COVID-19.

Camila first heard about Promotores de Salud through the health ministry at her church. For her, the program came at the perfect time. Even though they had already been through COVID-19, Camila said her family learned a lot about lifestyle changes they needed to make to stay healthy and overcome the side effects they are still feeling.

She encourages her neighbors and friends to learn more about COVID-19 through the Promotores program and others like it.

“This program is necessary, because I think there are people who still don’t believe COVID-19 is real and that it’s happening. We have close relatives who have died here and in other countries. This is real. We have to be aware, and we have to take action now,” she said.

“This disease leaves a mark on your body and it is difficult to get rid of. So we have to take action, do what the authorities tell us— always wear a mask and wash your hands. You may think it won’t hurt you or anyone if your family, but once you have it in your house, you realize what it really is capable of.”