Dia de Los Muertos in the midst of COVID-19

Hispanic Heritage Month

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Latino communities across the country have been hit the hardest by COVID-19. In Travis County, where Austin is located, Latinos account for half of deaths but only account for about 35% of the population, as of the end of August.

Austin Travis County COVID-19 Public Dashboard data shows Hispanics account for 50% of the COVID-19 deaths. Data date: 08/28/2020

“It’s very sad because we are at the forefront,” said Sylvia Orozco, the co-founder and executive director of Mexic-Arte Museum. “We are the cafeteria workers, janitors, construction workers. We are the artists. Many of us cannot work at home.”

This year, for Dia de Los Muertos, Maria Eugenia Ramirez is remembering all of those in her community who have died of COVID-19.

“Dia de Los Muertos is a tradition that goes back centuries, so you have a mixture of pre-Colombian traditions with Catholic traditions,” Orozco said.

Decorative skulls fill the altar. (KXAN Photo/Candy Rodriguez)

Ramirez is preparing a special ofrenda, or, as she puts it, “An altar is honoring someone, paying homage.”

Ramirez put the altar together to honor people like Patty Hernandez a local school cafeteria worker, and school crossing guard, Roberto Mata.

“It is a table of sorts that has gifts and things for the dead come back,” Orozco added.

The altar is filled and lined with decorative skulls to represent loved ones along with their favorite food and drinks as well as personal belongings.

A salt cross purifies the soul, papel picado symbolizes the wind, vibrant cempasúchil flowers attract the spirit and candles light the way.

“I want people who see this altar and think, ‘Wow, how pretty,’ to realize who it represents and who we are honoring,” Ramirez said.

Maria Eugenia Ramirez is remembering all of those in her community who have died of COVID-19. (KXAN Photo/Candy Rodriguez)

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Don't Miss

More Don't Miss

Coronavirus News

More Coronavirus

Trending Stories

Your Local Election HQ

More Election

Local Sports

Xtra Point High School Football: West De Pere gets first win, Kaukauna blasts D.C. Everest & more

Green Bay Nation 10/21: What happened to the Packers offense?

Green Bay Nation 10/21: GBN Gang Pick 'EM

Green Bay Nation 10/21: Challenge or No Challenge

Green Bay Nation 10/21: Top Five Tweets

Green Bay Nation 10/21: Previewing the Texans