In the United States, families with differing racial or ethnic backgrounds were hit hard by COVID-19. including Black, Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Natives, who were more likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID than whites. There are many reasons for this. For example, a person’s genetics and biology play a big role. There is also evidence that social, mental, behavioral and environmental factors are important factors in determining risk of complications from COVID.

COVID-19 in Hispanic/Latino communities

For U.S. Hispanic/Latino families, the impact of the pandemic has been especially severe. There are many Hispanics/Latinos in the essential workforce, such as construction and grocery store workers. Many of these essential workers could not easily switch to working from home. Hispanics/Latinos were also more likely to live in households with multiple generations in which infections could spread more quickly.

Hispanics/Latinos accounted for 23% of job losses at the start of pandemic. Today, the unemployment rate for Hispanic/Latinos (8.6%) remains higher than for whites (5.7%). Further, Hispanic/Latino-owned businesses were less likely than White-owned businesses to benefit from the federal Paycheck Protection Program.

We know that Hispanics/Latinos, especially undocumented individuals, are less likely to have health insurance. Immigration status may deter people from reporting an infection or seeking care, as well.

What can we do to achieve health equity for all?

Much more needs to be done for America to move towards health equity for all. A good way to start is to address bias in our health care systems and in medical school education. In addition, we can invest in new types of community health workers as we are doing here at Sansum Diabetes Research Institute.
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