COVID-19 in the East Side

4 min read

COVID-19 has presented itself as a major threat to the working class and lower income communities, a majority of which are located in East Los Angeles. Many people in these areas cannot afford to buy in bulk or be out of a job for such long periods of time. 

According to The Eastsider, this is a list of confirmed cases in the neighborhoods located in East Los Angeles, as of March 23:

  • Boyle Heights: 5 
  • Eagle Rock: 2
  • East Hollywood: 1
  • Echo Park: 2
  • Lincoln Heights: 1
  • Los Feliz: 2
  • Silver Lake: 4

Businesses

Many micro-entrepreneurs are being affected because of this crisis, including street vendors. Street vendors depend on the money they make on a daily basis to support themselves and their families. The call for social distancing has made it difficult for vendors to make ends meet, as with purchasing groceries or paying rent.

There are many organizations taking action to try to combat this economic crisis for street vendors in East LA, such as Inclusive Action for the City, a corporation formerly known as LURN. They are dedicated to bringing “people together to build strong, local economies that uplift low-income urban communities through advocacy and transformative economic development initiatives.” Along with the LA Street Vendor Campaign, including the East LA Community Corporation and Public Counsel, Inclusive Action for the City organized a GoFundMe named the The Street Vendor Emergency Fund in order to distribute funds directly to street vendors who are affected. So far, they have collected over $12,000. 

Schools 

Like everywhere else in the country, schools in the area are greatly impacted. The Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest public school district in the United States, has shut down and has instead set up 40 resource centers all over the city. This is important and essential for students and their families who truly depend on the resources the school provides for them everyday, including meals and child care. In an update from LAUSD’s Superintendent Austin Beutner, on March 19th, Los Angeles Unified was able to provide more than “90,000 meals for students” at their Grab & Go centers.

Boyle Heights

I live in Boyle Heights where, according to the Los Angeles Times, there are 5 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of March 16, 2020. From what we know, there could be more. My family and I have been taking precautions, and I have been trying to stay away from all the overwhelming news on the media—there is nothing but more cases being confirmed and more information being reiterated about what to do at home to stay safe. 

I hardly go out. I would rather stay in my home than go out, risking the lives of the people who are also in my home, including my parents and 11-year-old sister.

I don’t really get to see what is going on in my community, so I interviewed another student who attends school in East Los Angeles. Below is her account of how COVID-19 has impacted her day-to-day life and school.

Elda Arzate is a student at Esteban Torres High School in the Social Justice Leadership Academy wing in East Los Angeles. 

My school had suspended class for two weeks starting on March 16, 2020. But now, the tentative return to school will be on May 4th. We are now required to do online classes. Some teachers do conference calls so they can explain to us our work. I also communicate with teachers through email. I have also had to search for YouTube videos for my math class, which has been such a pain because I can’t find what I am in search of sometimes. 

I do not leave my house unless it is really necessary. I leave my house when I have to go to the store or have to make payments. When I am in a public place, I try to keep my distance. I do not wear gloves or a mask but I do carry a bottle of hand sanitizer and I also wash my hands frequently. I try not to touch the handles of doors or objects in public places. I just think it’s better to be safer than to regret it in the future. 

If you live in a Hispanic household like me, what I mainly do is clean. I do chores around the house to not get bored. I do the online classes and I read books. I also go on my phone for a while but it usually gets boring. I try to stay as productive as I can be. My friends and I text on a daily basis to check up on how we’re doing and to catch each other up at school. We try our best to keep in contact with each other.

I am speechless towards the situation that is going on. I feel like some people overreacted by taking too much of one item at the stores. I am constantly thinking about what will happen to my school year. Will the school year be extended to summer? Will I repeat my whole junior year again? I hope not. I also feel extremely sad for the seniors who have worked 12 years of their life to graduate, and sadly, they can’t even have their own prom now.

I think people were panicking so much due to the fact that the only thing the news was talking about was COVID-19. I was extremely depressed hearing news about COVID-19 over and over again. There were other things happening around the world but it seemed like they weren’t as important. I felt like the news talking only about the virus was so unnecessary. In my opinion, I feel like this virus had already been out there but it just wasn’t being discussed with the public. I find it so shocking how there were so many cases in such little time. 

From the people that I live with, we all agree on how we should take our precautions when we go out to do something that could not wait. We believe that if it’s not necessary then we shouldn’t go expose ourselves to this virus. We also have the same feeling that the news should talk about something else other than COVID-19. 

Here in Boyle Heights, masses have been canceled. On Sunday mornings there are no more people walking to church. Boyle Heights is such a populated place in Los Angeles and for it to be so empty is completely shocking; you would have never expected these streets to be so lonely.