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COVID-19, A Stigma To Many, Quietly Taking Toll On South Florida’s Haitian Community

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Emily Michot
/
Miami Herald
Evans St. Fort, CEO of the family-owned and operated St. Fort’s Funeral Home & Cremation in North Miami Beach, stands in the chapel Monday morning, August 10, 2020. The funeral home has seen a 30 percent increase in its business due to COVID-19 related deaths, which are hitting South Florida’s Haitian-American community especially hard.

The highly contagious coronavirus is quietly ravaging South Florida’s Haitian-American community. And there are complex cultural factors that make COVID-19 a particular challenge to deal with — and sometimes to even discuss — for many Haitians.

Fritzner Fabre, a healthcare aide who cared for coronavirus patients, spent his final days holed up in a ramshackle North Miami-Dade efficiency, coughing and wheezing. He was 41 when he died at the hospital.

Another Miami man, architect Pierre Martin, suffered from heart troubles and diabetes. Believing he’d simply caught a cold, Martin refused to go to the hospital until it was too late. He was 69 when COVID-19 killed him.

Then there was Pastor Marcel Métayer, who kept his Fort Lauderdale Baptist church open as a spiritual haven for the local Haitian-American community, even as the coronavirus surged during the summer. The faithful noticed Métayer, 63, gasping during his sermons. He blamed his labored breaths on getting wet in the rain.

Read more at our news partner the Miami Herald.