Earth Day, a grim reminder that communities congested with toxic air and water, are most ravaged by Covid-19

Rio Grande Valley, TX —  As the total number of Covid-19 fatalities continue to rise nationwide, one trend is concerning communities like the Rio Grande Valley. The majority of deaths have been low-income people of color who are susceptible to toxic air and water, and who as a result suffer high rates of asthma and other chronic conditions. 

The Rio Grande Valley has some of the highest rates of diabetes, heart disease, and asthma in the entire United States. “The coronavirus attacks the lungs, and air pollution makes it worse. Air pollution damages the airways, heart, and lungs, making it harder for people to fight off infections like coronavirus,” says Stapleton-Barrera. 

In fact, Texas A&M recently released a study on the link between pollution and asthma in the Texas-Mexico border region. The research conducted by Dr. Genny Carrillo points out how air pollution from car emissions, diesel exhaust, and nitrogen dioxide have played a significant role in the high rates of asthma in border communities. 

Additionally, the impacts of climate change have not gone unnoticed in the Rio Grande Valley. The region has been struck with a flurry of 100 year floods just within the last decade, damaging homes, and leaving mold and other hazards that families continue to live with. 

“These living conditions pose health risks that make children and their families susceptible to chronic diseases- and thus make them extremely vulnerable to viruses like Covid-19”, adds Stapleton-Barrera. “This earth day serves as a reminder of just how vulnerable our community is, and how important it is to begin taking serious steps in transitioning to a renewable energy economy.” 

SAVE RGV from LNG, an environmentalist rights group organizing against the installation of LNG (liquified natural gas) export terminals in the port of Brownsville, has recently endorsed Sara Stapleton-Barrera. The organization has exposed the dangers that these export terminals can pose to a Rio Grande Valley community already vulnerable to chronic diseases. 

“I pray that our stay-at-home orders work well enough to save the lives of many of our vulnerable families in South Texas. Moving forward beyond this pandemic, we must take bold actions to build an environment and an economy that secures the well being of all South Texans,” added Stapleton-Barrera. 

Stapleton Barrera is a 36-year-old constitutional rights lawyer born and raised in Cameron County. Her campaign has been covered in the Texas Observer, Texas Tribune, Brownsville Herald. Stapleton Barrera has been endorsed by Annie’s List, State Board of Education member Ruben Cortez, Texas Rising Action, Progress Texas, Jessica Cisneros, SAVE RGV from LNG, Texas Valley Educators Association, Cameron County TX Democratic Women


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