Larger families, more workers per household and overrepresentation in essential jobs has accounted for Latinos contracting COVID-19 at a significantly higher rate than non-Hispanic whites, according to a UCLA study.
The findings of the six-month study are included in a report titled, The Surge of Summer through Winter, 2020-2021: COVID-19 Burned Through California’s Latino Population, released this month by the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture (CESLAC) at UCLA. The report was co-authored by Dr. Paul Hsu, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health assistant professor of epidemiology, and Dr. David E. Hayes-Bautista, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health professor of health policy and management and distinguished professor of medicine at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine.
In all age groups, the Latino death rate is much higher than the non-Hispanic white (NHW) death rate, ranging from twice as high to eight times as high.
The report highlighted five demographic groups:
— Ages 80 and over: The Latino death rate was more than double the NHW rate, rising from 446.39 per 100,000 to 1,826.54.
— Ages 65-79: The Latino death rate was more than four times the NHW rate, rising from 141.57 per 100,000 to 681.31.
— Ages 50-64: The Latino death rate was nearly six times the NHW rate, rising from 42.57 per 100,000 to 207.32.
— Ages 35-49: The Latino death rate about seven to eight times the NHW rate, rising from 11.3 deaths per 100,000 to 45.33.
— Ages 18-34: The Latino death rate more than five times the NHW rate, rising from 1.52 per 100,000 to 8.40.
“COVID-19-related deaths can be considered a `lagging indicator’ for tracking an outbreak,” Hsu said. “They trail infections by a number of weeks and confirm what has already occurred. Unfortunately, they are the summary statistic of this deadly pandemic.”
The authors of the report attributed to the higher death rates to a few significant factors:
— Overrepresentation in many essential worker categories, including farm work and construction.
— Overrepresentation in jobs that require human interaction, such as farm work grocery store clerking, and an inability to work online or shelter at home.
— More wage earners per household. Latino households have an average of 1.6 wage earners per household, compared to 1.2 for NHW households.
— More children. On average, there is 1 child per Latino household, but only 0.5 children in NHW households.
— More older-age adults living in households, as well. Latino households contain nearly one more person per unit than NHW households.
Because of the increased risk of the Latino community, the study’s authors warned of the dangers that a Spring Break surge could pose, particularly because young adults have not been a high priority for vaccination efforts.
“After a year of lockdown, the temptation to party over Spring Break may be very hard to resist,” Hayes-Bautista said. “We warn that the Latino young adult COVID-19-associated death rate has been consistently over five times higher than the non-Hispanic white rate.
“This country has been through multiple waves of COVID-19 infections and deaths,” Hsu said. “The lack of social distancing and face coverings will most likely be high during Spring Break. But if we ease up on our protective measures, we risk another wave.”