Things That Matter

A 19-Year-Old Maid Was Convicted Of Stealing Jewelry, But The Jury Felt So Bad They Paid Her Fine

Sandra Mendez Ortega, an undocumented 19-year-old single mother with a baby on the way, works as a maid – a tough job that affords little pay and is mostly held by women of color. According to The Washington Post, she cleaned houses for just $60 a day.

While cleaning the home of Lisa Copeland, Mendez Ortega stole three rings worth $5,000, reports The Washington Post. Police investigated the theft and questioned three women that all cleaned the home of Copeland family. Though all three initially denied the the theft, eventually Mendez Ortega confessed, which led to her arrest.

Mendez Ortega, who claims she didn’t know how much the rings were worth, spent eight days in jail and was released on $1,000 bond. Police made Mendez Ortega write an apology letter to Copeland. She wrote in Spanish: “Sorry for grabbing the rings. I don’t know what happened. I want you to forgive me.”

credit: PressFrom

During her trial, which ended last week, the jury was moved by Mendez Ortega’s story. She dropped out of school after sixth grade, was pregnant at 15 and again at 19, and did not have a job. Copeland called it a “sob story” and was angry to not only hear the jury and others feel compassion for Mendez Ortega, but that they’d give her such a small sentence for her crime.

Mendez Ortega’s punishment was a day’s pay — a $60 fine. According to the Washington Post, the jury felt terrible for convicting the single mother, and they felt even worse for making her pay that fine, so they did something extraordinary. They took up a collection to pay her fine.

The general sentiment was she was a victim, too,” said jury foreman Jeffery Memmott to The Washington Post. “Two of the women [jurors] were crying because of how bad they felt. One lady pulled out a $20 bill, and just about everybody chipped in.”

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The juror then went to her home and gave her the entire collection of $80.

Copeland was not happy to hear about the jury’s giving nature.

“The punishment was she didn’t get paid for the day she stole from us,” Copeland told The Washington Post. “But then she did get paid for it. That’s changed my whole view of it.”

“She made $20 out of it, too,” she added.

So what did Mendez Ortega say when she was informed that the jury wanted to pay her fine?

“I became happy when I heard they wanted to give me that [money],” she said. “Thank you very much to all of them. God bless them.”

H/T: First the jury convicted this 19-year-old maid for stealing. Then they took up a collection to pay her fine.

READ: Latino Man Wins $20,000 Settlement After He Was Wrongfully Detained By ICE

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Community Rallies Around Latina Leader Who Needed A Double Lung Transplant Because Of Covid

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Community Rallies Around Latina Leader Who Needed A Double Lung Transplant Because Of Covid

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There is still so much that we do not know about Covid-19. One of the biggest mysteries is the long term effect of the virus after people recover. One of the most common things caused by Covid is the need for lung transplants. A Latina leader in Milwaukee experienced just that.

Carmen Lerma is a beloved member of the Latino community of Milwaukee.

Lerma was diagnosed with Covid-19 in July. At the time, cases were growing across the country and we knew even less about the virus than we know now. Lerma’s Covid diagnosis led to the beloved community member needing a double lung transplant because of the viciousness of this virus.

“She is very kind. She is very loved,” fellow volunteer and friend Carmen Hernandez said of Lerma to NBC News. “I feel so bad for her situation right now. She can’t even breathe. It’s really hard for me to see her going through this when she’s such an active person.”

Months after her diagnosis, Lerma has a new pair of lungs.

Credit: Carmen Lerma / Facebook

The Covid-19 pandemic is entering a new and terrifying chapter as cases are growing around the world. Countries in Europe are implementing new restrictions to control the spread of Covid and certain states are follow suit to protect residents. Lerma is hoping that her story can help to convince people of the severity of the virus.

Lerma’s story highlights the seriousness of Covid-19 complications after surviving a diagnosis.

Lung transplants for Covid-19 patients are becoming more and more common as more people are infected with the virus. Currently, more than 8 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with Covid. More than 220,000 people have died and cases, which never significantly decreased, are on the rise again in most states.

Lerma is using her story to get people to care about Covid-19.

Credit: Carmen Lerma / Facebook

There has been a lot of misinformation spread about Covid that has contributed to the spikes. President Donald Trump used his own diagnosis to tell people not to worry about the virus and to get out there and live life, something health experts around the world rebuked. Even Harvard University released a study debunking the claim that certain blood types are more resistant or prone to Covid-19.

In one of the most American traditions, friends set up a GoFundMe to help cover the costs of Lerma’s medical care.

The GoFundMe page has raised more than $30,000 of the $100,000 they are hoping to raise to pay for Lerma’s medical costs. She spent months in hospitals fighting the virus that is currently devastating Wisconsin as it spreads unimpeded. Wisconsin is facing one of the worst outbreaks in the U.S. right now after a conservative judge declared Gov. Tony Evers’ restrictions to slow the spread. The state’s Republican Party is suing to reverse the mask mandate, the single strongest tool we have to battle the virus and save lives.

READ: Joe Biden Walks Away With Final Presidential Debate On Healthcare, Covid, And Many Issues

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The Number Of Latinos In The U.S Killed By Covid-19 Surpasses 44,500 With No Signs Of Slowing Down

Things That Matter

The Number Of Latinos In The U.S Killed By Covid-19 Surpasses 44,500 With No Signs Of Slowing Down

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For months we have heard stories from our neighbors and our friends of people losing loved ones to Covid-19. It seems that with each passing day the degrees of separation from ourselves and the virus gets smaller and smaller.

Although this is true for all demographics, it’s particularly true for the Latino community. New data shows that although Latinos make up about 19% of the national population, we account for nearly a third of all deaths. These numbers are staggering and experts are warning that entire communities are being decimated by the pandemic.

More than 44,500 Latinos have died of Covid-19 in the United States.

It’s no secret that the Coronavirus has ravaged our community but now we have concrete numbers that show just how bad the pandemic has been among Latinos. According to new data from the COVID Tracking Project, over 44,500 of the nearly 211,000 people in the U.S. killed by the Coronavirus to date are Latino.

While Latinos are under 19 percent of the U.S. population, we make up almost one-third of Coronavirus deaths nationwide, according to CDC data analyzed by Salud America, a health research institute in San Antonio. Among some age groups, like those 35 to 44, the distribution of Latino Covid deaths is almost 50 percent; among Latinos ages 45-54, it’s almost 44 percent.

Experts say several factors account for higher COVID-19 death and infection rates among Latinos versus whites, including poverty, health care disparities, the prevalence of serious underlying medical conditions, and greater exposure to the virus at work because of the kinds of working-class, essential jobs many Latinos have.

Many Latinos who have been infected or died of the Coronavirus are front-line or essential workers.

Credit: Wilfredo Lee / Getty Images

So many of our family members and neighbors work jobs that are now considered “essential.” From building cleaning services, to restaurant workers, grocery store employees, nurses, and farm workers, our community is on the front lines more than any other community in this fight against the pandemic.

In fact, 41.2 percent of all front-line workers are Black, Hispanic or Asian-American/Pacific Islander, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, an economic policy think tank. Hispanics are especially overrepresented in building cleaning services (40.2 percent of workers).

Latinos also have the highest uninsured rates of any racial or ethnic group in the U.S., according to the Department of Health and Human Services. All of these factors add up to a dangerous and deadly combination that has resulted in the outsized number of deaths among Latinos.

Some are saying that the virus is causing the ‘historic decimation’ of Latinos.

Speaking at a virtual Congressional Hispanic Caucus meeting last week, a global health expert warned that the Coronavirus is causing “the historic decimation” of the Latino community, ravaging generations of loved ones in Hispanic families.

To illustrate his point, Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, read off descriptions of people who died on Aug. 13 in Houston alone.

“Hispanic male, Hispanic male, Hispanic male, black male, Hispanic male, black male, Hispanic male, Hispanic female, black female, black male, Hispanic, Hispanic, Hispanic, Hispanic, Hispanic, Hispanic” Hotez said, adding that many are people in their 40s, 50s and 60s.

“This virus is taking away a whole generation of mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters, you know, who are young kids, teenage kids. And it occurred to me that what we’re seeing really is the historic decimation among the Hispanic community by the virus,” he said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci – a popular figure in the fight against Coronavirus – has also raised the alarm.

The nation’s leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, gave a recent update on the impact on the Latino community. He pointed out that hospitalizations among Latinos 359 per 100,000 compared to 78 in whites. Deaths related to Covid-19 are 61 per 100,000 in the Latino population compared to 40 in whites, and Latinos represent 45 percent of deaths of people younger than 21, Fauci said.

Fauci said the country can begin to address this “extraordinary problem” now by making sure the community gets adequate testing and immediate access to care. But he said this is not a one-shot resolution.

“This must now reset and re-shine a light on this disparity related to social determinants of health that are experienced by the Latinx community — the fact that they have a higher incidence of co-morbidities, which put you at risk,” Fauci said.

Fauci also urged the Latino congressional members on the call to get their Latino constituents to consider enrolling in vaccination trials so they can be proven to be safe in everyone, including African Americans and Latinos.

“We need to get a diverse representation of the population in the clinical trials,” he said.

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