CA Latinx Community Hardest Hit by COVID-19, Prompts Health Equity | #healthcare | #elderly | #seniors
– COVID-19 mortality rates among Latinos were between two and eight times higher than rates for non-Hispanic White (NHW) patients in California, according to a report released by UCLA’s Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture (CESLAC) that calls for Latino COVID-19 vaccination prioritization to work towards health equity.
The report analyzed COVID-19 mortality data from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) during the COVID-19 surge from July 2020 through January 2021.
“COVID-19‒related deaths can be considered a ‘lagging indicator’ for tracking an outbreak,” co-author of the report and Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Paul Hsu, PhD, MPH, said in a press release. “They trail infections by a number of weeks and confirm what has already occurred. Unfortunately, they are the summary statistic of this deadly pandemic.”
While the report’s findings are alarming for all age groups, Latinos aged 35 through 49 had the worst health outcomes, with seven to eight times as many COVID-19-related deaths compared to NHW individuals. Latino death rates for this age group rose from 11.3 deaths per 100,000 in July to 45.33 per 100,000 in January.
Since March of 2020, Latinos have worked many of the essential jobs that have kept the state functioning.
Co-author David E. Hayes-Bautista, PhD, MA, professor of health policy and management at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, noted that while most office-based wage earners have been able to minimize COVID-19 exposure by working from home, this has not been the case for many Latino wage earners.
“Latinos are over-represented in occupations that require wage earners to leave their homes and interact with co-workers and clients, such as farm workers and grocery store clerks,” Hayes-Bautista explained.
In addition to being overrepresented in jobs that pose COVID-19 exposure risk, Latinos are also more likely to live in house where multiple people work, further compounding this population’s high risk for infection. On average, Latino households have 1.6 wage earners, compared to 1.2 for NHW households.
What’s more, Latino households have an average of 1.0 child compared to 0.5 children in NHW homes, leading to a greater chance for children to spread the virus to family members.
“Children with COVID-19 may have mild, non-specific symptoms, or no symptoms at all,” Hsu noted. “But they can still transmit the virus from one adult to others.”
The researchers found that the second age cohort of Latinos that was hardest hit by the pandemic was those 50 to 64 years old, which had a COVID-19 mortality rate six times the NHW rate.
“These older middle-aged workers are usually in their prime earning years, and our economy is losing Latino prime earners at six times the rate of NH white prime earners,” said Hayes-Bautista, who is also a distinguished professor of medicine at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine.
During the six-month period, the Latino death rate for this age group rose from 42.57 per 100,000 to 207.32 per 100,000 from July to January.
The COVID-19 death rate for Latinos ages 18 to 24 was more than five times the NHW rate.
“Young adults are finishing their education, starting their careers, forming households, and generally preparing for their next decades of work and family life,” Hayes-Bautista said. “We are losing Latino members of this cohort, so important for society’s future, at five times the rate of NH white members.”
Latinos ages 65 to 79 had a death rate more than four times that of NHW, and Latinos over 80 had a death rate more than twice the NHW rate.
“Not only was the death rate twice as high for Latino elderly, age 80 and older,” Hayes-Bautista said. “Our research into Latino hospital use before COVID-19 has consistently shown that older Latino elderly are less likely to be covered by Medicare for their hospital costs.”
The report noted that to promote health equity, the state should ensure that the Latino population is prioritized for COVID-19 vaccination and other medical care.
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