New York City, the epicenter of the COVID-19 epidemic in the United States, it is an example of how the novel coronavirus is disproportionately impacting the Hispanic community.
Hispanics make up 29% of the population in New York, but 34% of COVID-19 deaths in the city, according to preliminary information from the local Health Department.
Experts cite a number of reasons. In principle, they say that these figures reveal inequalities in income, access to health insurance, and health care in general.
And these factors are directly related to a higher rate, and less control, of pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease, which put people at greater risk of becoming seriously ill or dying if they contract COVID-19.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the highest profile expert in the fight against the coronavirus in the country, said that “this crisis clearly reveals the disparities and weaknesses that exist in our society.”
“Most epidemics are guided missiles attacking those who are poor, disenfranchised and have underlying health problems,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In fact, some experts believe that social and economic conditions, long ignored by governments, legislators, and the public itself, are even more powerful indicators of who will survive the pandemic.
This toxic combination of racial, financial, and geographic disadvantages can be fatal.
Contact with people
Many Latinos work in services that are considered essential (although these rules may vary from state to state) such as supermarkets, home delivery services, garbage collection, and construction, and have been going to work since the beginning of the national outbreak.
Others, in informal jobs like street vending, simply have to stay on the streets to make ends meet.
The undocumented population is particularly hard hit, not only by possible exposure to the coronavirus, but by their lack of health insurance.
While the government has said that tests and treatment for COVID-19 must be covered, the truth is that there are numerous related expenses that patients must eventually pay out of pocket.
On the other hand, Hispanics who are undocumented or have informal jobs will not receive the funds from the government, the economic stimulus package approved by Congress to help taxpayers deal with unemployment and their monthly bills.
In a survey conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center, Hispanics, like the general public, say that the novel coronavirus represents a major threat to the US economy.
But on other issues, Latinos’ concerns are more pronounced than those of the general public. 65% think it is a major health threat, compared to 47% of the general public.
One factor warned of by epidemiologists is a typical custom in the community: Several generations living under one roof. These days, this practice can be risky for elders, who have weakened immune systems.
It has been proven that young people can carry the coronavirus without presenting symptoms and spread it among their family members.
So far, few states have information on cases and deaths broken down by race or ethnicity.
Organizations like the National Association of Hispanic Nurses are calling for more educational campaigns about COVID-19 focused on the Hispanic community, in Spanish
Sources: CDC, NIH, Departamento de Salud de NY, KHN.
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