Coronavirus News: Immigrants hit hard by COVID-19 pandemic

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Immigrants are among the hardest hit groups by the coronavirus pandemic, as they often live in large households where social distancing is difficult.

Additionally, experts say many face economic challenges made even harder by COVID-19.

It's anything but business as usual around New York City, and on 37th Avenue in Queens, there are shuttered storefronts including the small grocery stores that are the lifeline to these communities.

"Many of these supermarkets are owned and run by immigrants, and so they are the frontline workers," City Council member Daniel Dromm said. "And many of them themselves have become sick."

The virus has ravaged the immigrant community both physically and financially, and 22-year-old Lizbeth Huitzil and her family are struggling just to find food and pay for it.

"My parents are currently not working," she said. "It's very hard to keep up with food, utilities, basically all the bills."

And unlike others who will receive stimulus checks from the government, undocumented immigrants -- many whom pay taxes -- will not receive any assistance. Advocates are now launching a new campaign with the hashtag #ShareMyCheck so others who receive money might donate some.

They say immigrants can't afford to stay home and have to go out, risking their lives, because they need to provide food for their families.

An additional problem is housing. Once patients who recover leave the hospital, they have no where to convalesce except their crowded, illegally converted apartments where the virus could spread.

"There is no place for them to go, to socially isolate, when you're living in conditions like that," Dromm said.

He says Mayor Bill de Blasio has set aside some hotel rooms for people leaving Elmhurst Hospital, but that it will not be enough.

Meanwhile, families like the Huitzils are scraping by and praying for the help they desperately need.

Make the Road New York is raising money for its COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund to provide direct support to the most vulnerable workers and low-income immigrant families, and to organize to ensure they are not left out of government solutions.

CLICK HERE for more information or to donate.

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