“I don’t know how I’m going to do this,” the man on the phone stammered in Spanish, his voice cracking. “I’m asking you, please. Whatever you can … I’m desperate for me and my family. I cannot help them. Please help us.”
María Cruz was already stretched thin. On that June morning, the community organizer had two laptops open and a phone ringing every few minutes with new callers seeking COVID-19 information in Spanish. Her employer, the nonprofit Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice, set up the hotline to supplement the lack of translated public health materials in a state with a Latino population of nearly 200,000.
The man on the phone told her that he, his wife, and their three children, all Mexican immigrants like Cruz, were exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. The man had it the worst. His feverish body ached. He could barely move. He didn’t have a car,