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Former Covid Patient Margarita Montanez Made 800 Tamales for Health Care Workers

Margarita Montanez spent 20 days in the hospital in April battling coronavirus and now she’s giving back to those who helped heal her by making 800 tamales, KTLA reported. The San Fernando Valley resident was hooked up to a ventilator for several days in the intensive care unit at Cedars-Sinai, a nonprofit hospital in Los Angeles.  Montanez, a mother to six and grandmother to 12, made the tamales over the span of five days and her daughter Cindy helped her deliver them to the healthcare workers at Cedars-Sinai on Dec. 17.

Cindy shared with Wendy Burch at KTLA that Margarita had a 102.9 F fever in late March and that she decided to take her to Cedars-Sinai having faith in the staff to provide the best care for her. She was released on April 17 and exactly eight months later they returned to give back to the healthcare workers. She went on to share that her mom makes the tamales every year “with lots of love. That’s her secret ingredient.”

“People may not remember her but she remembers the medical staff every single day because of what they did to save her life and the lives of literally thousands of people. So they are the heroes and they deserve the best tamales in the world which are my mom’s tamales,” she told Burch.

Since the start of the pandemic communities of color in Los Angeles have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus as many are essential workers who aren’t able to work from home. Of every 100,000 Latino residents of L.A. County, 38 died from Covid-19, according to data from June reported by the Los Angeles Times. Among residents ages 65 to 79, Latinx made up 44 percent of coronavirus deaths, yet they are only 22 percent of California’s population in that age group, the LA Times reported. Also in June LAist reported that Latinos made up about 51 percent of the county’s known coronavirus cases and they only comprise  49 percent of the county’s population.

Montanez was among those who were infected early on and her way of showing her gratitude for the care she received is in line with the Christmas tradition of making tamales. In Chicano culture, tamales are reserved for special occasions such as the holidays and can take several days to prepare so her efforts to make hundreds for the medical staff is an extension of the love and tradition normally reserved for family.

“I appreciate the doctors, the nurse, they helped me. I was in the ICU for four days and I really appreciate it that’s why I did it,” Montanez told KTLA.