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Posted on: May 24, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has had major harmful impacts across America and the rest of the World, but it has been particularly cruel to the Latino community in the United State. A particular impact of COVID_19 within the Latino community is that it strikes working age individuals at a far higher rate than the general population. Initial studies suggested that Hispanic Americans were experiencing hospitalizations and death rates on par with the non-Hispanic populations. The generalized early numbers hid the grim impact the virus was having on the Latino workforce.

Average age for Hispanic Americans is 29.8 while the median age in the remainder of the population is 43.7. Since the virus has spared most of the younger population serious consequences the overall numbers did not raise concerns. However after adjusting for the age difference, startling results were revealed. Hispanics in the workforce are far more likely to contract COVID, require hospitalizations and suffer death then their non- Hispanic counterparts.

In an April 1, 2021 analysis “Using race- and age-specific COVID-19 case data to investigate the determinants of the excess COVID-19 mortality burden among Hispanic Americans” authored by D. Phuong Do and Reanne Frank and published on DEMOGRAPHIC RESEARCH, the researchers reviewed data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention along with individual case data to determine the causative factor behind the disparate impact. The study looked at the potential contributions of workplace exposures, as well as multigenerational households, pre-existing health conditions and unequal quality/access to health care. While finding little correlation between the other factors and hospitalization or death in the working age group, there was a strong connection between work-place exposure.

In general, Hispanics in the age group of 20-69 experience what the report describes as “case burdens” 205 higher than their non-Hispanic counterparts. However, in the age group 70 and above the “case burdens” based on ethnicity balance out. These findings correlate with the fact that Hispanics are disproportionally represented with injuries in essential occupations which do not lend them self to remote work. The community because of the nature of the work they perform are disproportionally exposed to the virus. Often they are working in environments where employers are unable or unwilling to provide necessary protective equipment or appropriate distancing.

The authors urge greater emphasis on establishing workplace protection for racial and ethnic minorities as they disproportionately perform low-wage and essential worker activities. In the meantime, many Latino workers are faced with the difficult choice of putting either their lives or their livelihoods in great peril.

Article contributed by San Jose applicants' attorney Joseph Capurro, Esq., CAAA Executive Committee, Immediate Past President