Things That Matter

COVID-19 Deaths Among Young Latinos Are Skyrocketing And It’s Having Major Impacts On Our Community

In what seems like a never ending saga and yet a blink of an eye at the same time, 2020 has been a devastating year for so many. The Coronavirus pandemic has snaked its way through the lives of Latinos across the country, leaving illness, sorrow, pain, and death in its wake.

Few communities have been as impacted by the pandemic as the Latino community. As of Dec. 23, Covid-19 had killed more than 54,000 Latinos, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID Tracking Project, which acknowledges that its numbers are incomplete.

So many of our tíos and primos, even our own mothers and fathers, work in jobs that are considered essential and they’re bearing the brunt of the pandemic’s toll on workers.

Meanwhile, the virus has destroyed the foundations built by our families through hard work to give us – the younger generation – a better future.

Young Latinos are being hit particularly hard by the latest surge in COVID-19 deaths.

It was obvious from the beginning of the pandemic that those already worse off were going to be most impacted by the virus. And that’s exactly what happened. Covid-19 thrived on many Latinos’ roles as “essential workers” and it exploited the long-standing gaps compared to white Americans in income, education and access to health care.

The virus immediately had an outsized impact on our community, since so many of us suffer from higher rates of diabetes, hypertension and higher rates of obesity while having less savings and lower wealth, as well as limited business capital.

Meanwhile, the virus has worked to undo generations of progress made by our families in making sure that younger Latinos have strong foundations to work toward a better economic standing.

Gabriel Sanchez, of the University of New Mexico Center for Social Policy, told NBC News that “The only state where Latinos are not overrepresented in cases and casualties is in New Mexico, and that is because Native Americans have been hammered.”

An even more shocking truth is that Covid-19 has been more deadly for young Latinos than other racial groups. Latinos have the greatest share of deaths in age groups under 54, according to CDC data, while among whites, the greatest share of deaths has occurred in age groups over 65.

So many young Latinos work in jobs that are now considered essential and can’t stay home.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, young and working-age adults were hit hard. Covid-19 spread like wildfire in many of the fields that os many young Latinos work in: service industries, farm work, meat plant workers, grocery stores, and healthcare. This grim reality is reflected in the data.

Among Americans who are 35 to 44, almost half (48.9 percent) of those who died were Latino, compared to 27.3 percent of Black people and 15.5 percent of whites, according to an analysis of 226,240 deaths using CDC data.

By contrast, in the 65-74 age group, 45.3 percent killed by Covid-19 were white, 24.7 percent were Black and 23.1 percent were Latino.

For many families, the pandemic has turned back the progress made by earlier generations.

Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The pandemic and the death it’s brought along with it, has undone so much of the valuable progress made by our families. Before Covid-19 hit, our community had bounced back from the economic blow of the Great Recession.

In fact, between 2016 and 2019, wealth among Latino and Black families grew faster than that of other groups, though they still had far to go to catch up to white families, whose median family wealth last year was $188,200, compared to $36,100 for Hispanics and $24,100 for Blacks.

Before the pandemic, Latino unemployment was at 4 percent, but then soared to 19 percent in April. It fell back to 8.4 percent in November, but it’s still double the pre-pandemic rate.

Latino businesses were the engine driving small-business growth, and some had been adding jobs until the pandemic hit. Now, more jobs have been lost in several industry sectors with disproportionately higher rates of Latino-owned businesses — such as food services — than in the private sector overall, according to the Urban Institute.

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