Counties that are predominantly Latino account for a disproportionate number of Covid-19 cases in most regions of the United States, with the exception of the South, and structural racism is in part to blame, according to a new study.
In general, the Latino/Hispanic community has been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19. While Latinos account for 18% of the US population, in June the community accounted for one in three of all confirmed Covid-19 cases in the US.
Latinos also had among the highest age-adjusted rates of Covid-19 related hospitalizations and in June made up one in five of all confirmed Covid-19 deaths.
For the study published Thursday in the Annals of Epidemiology, researchers looked at data on Covid-19 cases in deaths at the county level. In the Northeast, majority Latino counties have more than 63% of coronavirus cases and more than 66% of the deaths. In the Midwest, these counties have more than 31% of the cases and more than 22% of the deaths. In the West it’s more than 75% of the cases and more than 73% of the deaths.
These numbers are likely an undercount, the researchers said, because Latino communities, particularly in low-income areas, are less likely to have access to Covid-19 testing.
“We found that crowded housing, air pollution, jobs in the meatpacking and poultry industry and other factors put Latinos at high risk of COVID-19 infections and death,” said a lead author of the study, Carlos Rodriguez-Diaz, an associate professor of prevention and community health at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.
Rodriguez-Diaz hopes that public health leaders can use this work to inform decisions about which areas need to increase access to testing and access to language-appropriate education materials about Covid-19. The study also argues that all states need to expand Medicaid.