Study Shows Disproportionate Impact of Coronavirus on Latino Immigrant Community

Chicano Federation outreach officer cites 'systematic failures' even before the pandemic as major factor.

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A USC study showing the disproportionate impact the coronavirus has had on the Latino community comes as no surprise to community leaders in San Diego.

“The outcomes are not surprising to us. We’ve been working with the Latino community since the very beginning of this pandemic and immediately saw the disproportionate impact that crisis had on our community,” said Roberto Alcantar, Chief Outreach Officer at the Chicano Federation.

The study, published in the journal Annals of Epidemiology, found Latino immigrants between the ages of 20 and 54 have been 11.6 times more likely to die from the coronavirus than those born in the United States. The disparity is connected to overrepresentation in jobs that involve person-to-person contact.

Alanctar said the disparity is attributable to a number of factors that existed well before the pandemic.

“Such as lack of access to health care. A lot of folks in the community just don’t have access to health care,” Alcantar explained.

He also said many Latinos have no choice but to work in high-contact, high-risk, low-paying jobs. Alcantar also cited a lack of affordable housing.

“That in itself creates crisis where you have these families where you have multiple workers that have these high-contact, high-risk, low-paying jobs who are going out to different work sites and they’re coming back home every single day to a home you’re sharing with multiple households,” said Alcantar.

Meanwhile, at the Chula Vista vaccination superstation, many in the Latino community noted mistrust in government plays a factor in people still hesitant to get vaccinated.

“I know that there is a lot of insecurity in the Latino community, in terms of just like trusting what they hear, trusting the government, what they say. So there’s a lot of hesitancy about it, so it’s really not surprising that it’s impacting that community more," said Celilia Zissen of Chula Vista.

Even those personally impacted by COVID-19 have delayed getting vaccinated, which puts the Latino population at risk.

Aguilino Ruiz’s mother died from COVID-19 in January. He is just now being vaccinated.

“I wasn’t really too happy about taking it, but I think we were going to take it sooner or later, so let’s just get started, get it over with, so we can get back to normal,” said Ruiz.

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