Dr. Juanita Mora, a Chicago allergist and immunologist, shined with her infectious, vibrant and charismatic energy on stage at the Latino’s Progressando: The Joy of Being Mexican 10th Annual MEX talks event on September 22, 2022.

The event took place just days after Mexican Independence Day during Hispanic Heritage Month and gives Mexican and Mexican American leaders a platform to reflect on a shared identity and tell stories to inspire positive change.

During her MEX talk, Dr. Mora, who is also a national volunteer medical spokesperson for the American Lung Association, focused on her work for the Hispanic and Latino immigrant community and essential workers during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. She highlighted the disparities among Latino and Black community essential workers compared to their white counterparts during the same timeframe.

Dr. Mora kept the doors of her clinic open to Hispanic and Latino essential workers during the beginning of the pandemic while other businesses were closing their doors. Why? As a first-generation Mexican American who was born and raised in Chicago, she noted that her dad was a butcher who worked in a meat packing company. She continued, “I came from a family and community of essential workers. So how could I not be there for them?”

She listed the ways that she “became one with the Latino immigrant community,” including her work with the Lung Association. “We distributed more than 500 facemasks to essential workers in the Pilsen neighborhood and masked essential workers. The paleta man, the elote man, the tamale lady, restaurant workers because they are all important. The Lung Association taught me the gift of advocacy. Doing more work for others,” she said.

Dr. Mora also highlighted her fundraising with the Lung Association in support of the COVID-19 Action Initiative, “I participated in a fundraiser with Queen Latifa. We raised $7 million,” she said.

She then made a call to action to the audience. “When asked what’s next? We need a documentary that tells the story of what the Hispanic and Latino immigrant community did to support this country during the pandemic so that way if there’s another pandemic, we take care of them. We need to be their voice,” she said.

Her last point was giving her personal definition of the joy of being Mexican. “It’s being this ‘doctora’ standing right in front of you who was there for her community when they needed her the most. I could not have done it without my ‘familia,’ without her clinic team and her faith.”

Dr. Mora kicked off the event as the first speaker on stage that evening. She once again proved to be a great voice for the community and ended on that same note, “It took a pandemic for me to be a voice for those that have no voice. Through the process I won the trust and love of the Hispanic and Latino community, but I want them to know that they have always had my heart.”

COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on the Latino community. The American Lung Association is committed to addressing health disparities. Allergist and National Medical Spokesperson for the American Lung Association, Dr. Juanita Mora highlights the impact of COVID-19 on essential workers in a predominantly Latino Chicago neighborhood and her critical work to reach them. To learn more about protecting you and your loved ones from COVID-19, visit Lung.org/covid19.

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