ABC 7 Chicago celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with 'Ñ Beat' special

Hosted by Stacey Baca

ByABC 7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
Hispanic Heritage Month 2020: ABC 7 Chicago celebrates Latino community in 'Ñ Beat' special
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Watch Part 1 of the Ñ Beat, an Emmy award-winning half-hour show that turns the spotlight on Chicago's Latino community.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- ABC 7 Chicago celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with the return of "The Ñ Beat" special.

The Ñ Beat is an Emmy award-winning half-hour show that turns the spotlight on Chicago's Latino community. This episode explores the especially harsh toll COVID-19 has taken on the group in Chicago. ABC 7 Chicago brings you an encore airing of The Ñ Beat at 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

On this episode, we meet several "healthcare heroes," like a family physician who volunteered in his clinic's COVID-19 testing tent for months and a nurse practitioner who managed to convince one of her patients that he might have COVID-19 when she did a virtual check-up with him. That check-up saved his life.

Then, find out how ARISE Chicago is helping to advocate for workers who are fearful heading to their jobs over COVID-19 concerns. And a Pilsen photographer uses "essential workers" as his inspiration for his latest passion project.

Meet a University of Illinois at Chicago family physician who runs a vital neighborhood food pantry in her spare time. Then, see how a Chicago artist helped to turn some of the boarded-up store windows into beautiful messages of unity.

ABC7's Stacey Baca hosts the show from the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen. Correspondents include Tanja Babich, Rob Elgas, Michelle Gallardo, Mark Rivera and Yukare Nakayama.

Part 1 The Ñ Beat

Early on in the pandemic in Chicago, health officials noticed that COVID-19 was infecting the city's Latinx community at a disproportionate level. According to the city's COVID-19 "dashboard," while just more than 29% of Chicago's population is Latinx, that same ethnic group accounted for nearly 48% of the reported cases.

Dr. Marina Del Rios is an emergency room physician at UIC Hospital and noticed this trend first-hand. Along with her life-saving work at the hospital, Del Rios has joined an important team, trying to turn this unfortunate trend around. It's a consortium called Illinois Unidos, where local Latinx experts joined together to offer key COVID-19 information and resources for the community.

For more information, visit

With Chicago's Latinx community coping with a disproportionately high COVID-19 infection rate, access to affordable health care is even more important. Esperanza Health Center has cared for thousands of Chicago families since it opened 15 years ago. During the pandemic, Esperanza pivoted to offering COVID-19 testing in their parking lots, a COVID-19 triage hotline and a robust telehealth practice. We meet two of their "healthcare heroes" on-staff, Dr. Maximiliano Luna, Jr and nurse practitioner Veronica Galvalisi.

For more information, visit or call 773-584-6200.

To contribute to the Esperanza COVID Relief Fund, visit

WATCH: Part 2 The Ñ Beat

Watch Part 2 of the Ñ Beat, an Emmy award-winning half-hour show that turns the spotlight on Chicago's Latino community.

An unmistakable link to the disproportionate toll COVID-19 has taken on Chicago's Latinx community is the fact many of those who've been infected with COVID-19 are those who are unable to work remotely.

ARISE Chicago has helped workers at 40 different facilities all over the Chicago area stage "work actions" over their health and safety fears, in the face of the virus. This spring, employees at LSL Healthcare in Niles and United Scrap Metal in Cicero staged health strikes in cooperation with ARISE.

ARISE Chicago
1436 W. Randolph St.

The plight of essential workers is the inspiration for a local photographer's latest passion project. Mateo Zapata was so moved by seeing vendors in his neighborhood still out working during the shelter-in-place orders that he set out to photograph those essential workers. He is turning that work into a documentary due out next year, and just completed a mural in Pilsen with fellow artist Pablo Serrano focusing on the same topic.

For more information, visit

WATCH: Part 3 The Ñ Beat

Watch Part 3 of the Ñ Beat, an Emmy award-winning half-hour show that turns the spotlight on Chicago's Latino community.

COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the economy, and with so many industries shedding jobs, it has caused food insecurity to skyrocket. But UIC family physician Dr. Evelyn Figueroa is helping to tackle hunger head-on. She and her husband opened up the Pilsen Food Pantry.

The pantry is one of only two left in the Pilsen neighborhood. It currently distributes eight tons of food to its clients each week. Clients fill out a requested "shopping list" and wait for their orders to be filled and delivered curbside.

Pilsen Food Pantry
1850 S. Throop St.


After recent protests erupted across the nation, many cities were hit with violent protests and looting, including the Magnificent Mile. But Chicago artist Marco Rios used a boarded-up store as a canvas to spread a message of hope and unity. In June, he was commissioned by AT&T, to turn the boards into several beautiful murals.

Visit or @mriosart on Twitter for more information.

WATCH: Part 4 The Ñ Beat

Watch Part 4 of the Ñ Beat, an Emmy award-winning half-hour show that turns the spotlight on Chicago's Latino community.

The National Museum of Mexican Art has been closed to the public since the shelter-in-place orders back in March, but that isn't stopping the vital work of this free institution. In fact, its all new Day of the Dead exhibit is open for patrons to see "virtually." Over the years, more than 1.5 million people have come to see the annual Day of the Dead exhibit at NMMA. Another way the museum pivoted to help keep the arts "alive" was turning its Viva La Vida Senior Art class into a Zoom class.

National Museum of Mexican Art
1852 W. 19th St.

"The Ñ Beat" is produced by Holly Grisham and Justyna Syska.