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Resources available for SC Latinos during COVID-19 pandemic

For those who only speak Spanish in our state, we're highlighting one of multiple agencies ready to help during the coronavirus outbreak.

Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- Initial reports from across the U.S. show coronavirus cases have a harmful impact on communities of color.

Five counties in Florida, for instance, released figures illustrating higher hospitalization rates for African American and Latino patients. That's according to a letter sent Tuesday by U.S. Senator Tim Scott to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

This week, city leaders out of Houston said health disparities have always existed in minority populations and are heightened because of COVID-19.

As News 19 releases resources to you each day, we're also keeping in mind members of our Latino community. In this story, we're highlighting one of multiple resources available for Latinos in South Carolina.

"Right now, it is a time of unity. It is a time for us to look after one another," said Maria Martin, Director of Programs and Co-Interim Executive Director of PASOs.

PASOs is a statewide organization that supports Latino communities with education, advocacy, and leadership development.

RELATED: Varias organizaciónes están disponibles para ayudar la comunidad Latina

"People might think our numbers [as Hispanics in SC] are small, but they're not. We have over - we have to see what the Census results are - but over 300,000 across the state. That's a large portion of South Carolina's community that could potentially be missing out on important information," said Mike Young, Director of Capacity Building and Co-Interim Executive Director of PASOs.

Right now PASOs is reaching out to Latinos, offering a helping hand during the pandemic.

"A majority of our community is dependent on the small business," said Martin. "Because small businesses are suffering so much right now, that is their immediate concern."

PASOS has sites throughout the state where community health workers are ready to connect residents to an expert for their situation.

"They're losing their jobs, so people are dealing with unemployment. Not knowing where to go, what they qualify for, how they're gonna get money to pay for rent and food," said Young. "That's become the first immediate need. 'What's out there and what can you help me figure out?'"

As many parents homeschool their children, resources are also available to aid in child development. 

PASOs can connect families with other resources they may need, such as SNAP, WIC and Medicaid help.

"Our secret sauce is making sure we're well connected to all of the local resources from where we have sites," said Martin. "Our CHW's (Community Health Workers) are on the ground working with community, but also working with all of the resources in the systems, organizations, community groups that are out there available and ready to support the community as a whole."

A hotline is also in the works, set up by bilingual volunteers to serve the Latino community. We will announce when it's set up and ready.

If you have a neighbor or friend who only speaks Spanish, please let them know we have this story translated here.

For more information about PASOs, you can visit SCPASOS.org or their Facebook page, where they post videos and resources daily.

Here is a list of other resources available to the Spanish speaking community in South Carolina:

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