To the scarce medical coverage and the high rate of infected are added serious economic problems. The Hispanic population is the group most affected by the pandemic
The covid-19 crisis is severely affecting the Hispanic community in Chicago and throughout the country due to a rise in the number of infected and deaths due to the coronavirus and serious economic situations. According to data published by the Latino Policy Forum in Chicago, as well as a survey conducted by NPR radio, the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Latinos are the group most affected by the pandemic.
Sylvia Puente, executive director of the Latino Policy Forum, indicated in a recent video conference that the latest data on COVID-19 cases by race and ethnicity in Illinois paint an eloquent picture “of a disproportionate devastation of the disease among Latinos and communities of color across the state. “
As experts assert, it is estimated that the real contagion rate among Latinos could be even higher, considering that many do not get tested for covid-19 for fear of being asked about their immigration status and even due to coverage limitations health or inability to pay exorbitant medical expenses.
The most recent data from the Latino Policy Forum, which is updated every 15 days, indicates that of every 100,000 Latinos in the state, 3,124 have or have had COVID-19, that is, 3.1% of all Latinos in the state of Illinois. Also, out of every 100,000 African Americans, 2,011 have or have had the virus, which is equivalent to 2%. For Asian and white communities, the data does not exceed 1% for each group.
The data indicates that of the 15 zip code areas with the highest number of infected, 11 are primarily Latino communities, including Chicago Lawn, Belmont Cragin, Brighton Park, Little Village, Cicero, Waukegan, Aurora, Pilsen and Berwyn. In addition, of the 15 zip code areas with the highest death rate from the virus, six are predominantly Latina.
“It is a real crisis that we are facing in the Latino community that is also accompanied by a huge economic crisis,” Puente said.
Serious financial problems
Robert Blendon, who is part of the Opinion Research Program at Harvard, indicated that a survey conducted between July and August revealed that 72% of Latinos, 60% of African Americans and 55% of Native Americans are experiencing serious economic problems due to the pandemic crisis. More than a third of those surveyed said they had serious problems keeping up with their credit card, mortgage, rent and basic services payments.
“Basically four out of 10 of these minority communities see their savings disappear. So think about your life. They are families that no longer have savings, “said the researcher, adding that the survey results were” worse “than the researchers anticipated.
In addition to the economic problems, the education of the children from home is added, since online classes are aggravating the situation for many parents because it is difficult to maintain their education and work at the same time.
“Given the situation in the homes, a very significant number of Latinos, at least 30%, are in that situation that is very difficult to handle. Furthermore, it turns out that 49% of Latinos and 35% of African Americans have connectivity problems [de internet] making the situation worse, ”Blendon said.
These families are “incredibly vulnerable,” he said.
Why is the covid-19 crisis severely affecting Latino communities?
Although the researchers have no concrete reasons, it is estimated that there are several factors that have influenced the increase in COVID-19 cases in this community. First, Latinos are mostly essential workers, so they are unable to quarantine as they work in sectors where it is not possible to work remotely.
“When we asked patients where they might have been exposed, the workplace was repeated over and over again,” said Carmen Vergara, operations manager for the Esperanza Health Centers. “Many do not even want to ask their employer about the measures taken to protect employees as they fear retaliation and losing their job.”
Other important factors that have accelerated the statistics of the disease for Latinos, according to researchers, are the lack of medical coverage and the high number of people who live in the same home, which prevents them from maintaining distance when a family member is infected with the virus.
“Of the 12,000 [pacientes], that we have examined, at least half have been patients who are not insured, this shows us, even to me as a health professional, that there is this subpopulation that was not there and is already out [del sistema de salud] and that only now did they seek medical attention because [realmente] they needed it, ”Vergara said.
In addition to the lack of coverage, Latinos are facing language barriers in hospitals.
“Let’s be honest, many of our hospitals do not have the adequate staff to be able to speak to people and provide instructions that are easy to understand in Spanish,” said Dr. Marina Del Ríos, director of Emergency Medicine for the Health and Sciences System. from the University of Illinois Hospital, who also participated in the Latino Policy Forum videoconference.
Added to the opinion of Dr. Del Ríos, Vergara added that her center saw cases where patients were discharged with oxygen equipment that did not have instructions in Spanish. “And when we did the follow-up, we saw that the patients were not following the steps correctly,” he said.
Another problem that health professionals have seen is the lack of counseling and psychological therapy, especially when a loved one dies due to covid-19. This implies that many Latino families have not been able to adequately deal with the death of a loved one due to containment measures for the spread of the virus.
“Part of our culture is showing affection and being together. With covid-19, this has not been possible and the need for psychological support for Hispanics who are going through a bereavement has grown a lot, ”said Vergara.
For information on tests and other resources, visit Illinoisunidos.com.
Editorial coverage of La Raza is made possible in part by the Chicago Community Trust, the Field Foundation of Illinois, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the Lenfest Institute for Journalism / Facebook Journalism Project, and the Google News Initiative. We appreciate your support of our journalistic work.