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Annually, CDC researchers compile and analyze data to predict the number of deaths that will occur in the coming year.
The number of mortalities that go over this initial estimate, or “the difference between the observed numbers of deaths in specific time periods and expected numbers of deaths in the same time periods,” are known as excess deaths.
Looking at deaths in 2020 compared with predicted deaths, researchers found that U.S. Latinos suffered double the excess deaths per 100,000 people than their white peers.
“There were profound racial/ethnic disparities in excess deaths in the United States in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in rapid increases in racial/ethnic disparities in all-cause mortality between 2019 and 2020,” according to an October 2021 study published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
COVID Cases and Deaths Among Latinos
Race/ethnicity data is available for 65% of the nation’s COVID-19 cases.
17.7% of U.S. COVID-19 deaths are among Latinos, according to a new CDC data web page, “Health Disparities: Race and Hispanic Origin.” That page was updated Oct. 13, 2021.
However, the Latino COVID-19 death rate became a more out-sized 34.1% when CDC used weighted population distributions. This is higher than the 26.7% mark from data at the end of May 2020.
“The weighted population distributions ensure that the population estimates and percentages of COVID-19 deaths represent comparable geographic areas,” CDC wrote. “[This provides] information about whether certain racial and ethnic subgroups are experiencing a disproportionate burden of COVID-19 mortality.”
Excess Deaths among Latinos
Between March and December 2020, 2.88 million deaths occurred in the United States, according to the CDC.
Compared to the same time span in 2019 and the expected death rate in 2020, CDC researchers found that 477,200 excess deaths occurred.
74% (351,400) of those deaths were associated with COVID-19.
With COVID-19 as a cause, excess deaths per 100,000 persons from March to December 2020 among Blacks and Latinos were more than double those among whites.
“The United States has seen profound racial/ethnic disparities in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths since the beginning of the pandemic,” the researchers write in their report. “Racial/ethnic disparities in COVID-19 risk, hospitalization, and death have been attributed to structural and social determinants of health with established and deep roots in racism.”
“Black and Latino persons are more likely to have occupational exposures to COVID-19 than White persons; they also are more likely to live in multigenerational households and more densely populated neighborhoods and have less access to health care and private transportation.”
Contributing Factors Behind Excess Deaths
Structural and social determinants of health, with roots of racism and discrimination, indeed contributed to excess deaths among people of color, according to another report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, NPR, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
This report found that:
- 38% of households across the U.S. have not been adequately protected from financial problem despite historic government assistance.
- 48% of households with children report they do not have any savings to fall back on, including 73% of Black households with children, 68% of Latino households with children.
- 50% of households without health insurance report serious problems affording medical care vs. 13% with insurance.
- 27% of renters nationally reported serious problems paying their rent.
This illustrates why Latinos are suffering during the pandemic.
“Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Black, Latino and Indigenous people have been disproportionately impacted in terms of infection, hospitalization and death,” Richard Besser, RWJF President and CEO, said in a statement. “The same is true when it comes to financial hardship. While federal economic assistance has helped millions of families, short-term help is not enough to solve deeply entrenched inequities.
“Our policy choices—from universal healthcare and paid leave to nutrition assistance and housing supports—must reflect a long-term commitment to a fairer, healthier, and more equitable nation.”
COVID-19 and Latinos At-Large
Latinos are highly exposed to the virus as essential workers.
COVID-19-associated hospitalizations are also higher among Latinos.
Texas has a similar disparity. Latinos make up 39.7% of the state’s population. Latinos represent 37% of COVID-19 confirmed cases and 44.1% of COVID-19 confirmed deaths, according to state data as of Oct. 13, 2021.
“This is robbing the Hispanic community of a generation of mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters,” Dr. Peter Hotez of Baylor College of Medicine told TPR.
Disparities are happening in vaccine uptake, too.
Latino undocumented immigrants often don’t benefit from unemployment aid or stimulus checks, either.
“Capable and healthy adults are the foundation of any well-functioning society,” said Greg Duncan of University of California, Irvine, in a news release. “But because millions of American children are in families living below the poverty line, this future is not as secure as it could be.”
How Can We Help Latinos During COVID-19?
One available resource is the Vaccine Equity Toolkit released by Kaiser Permanente. The toolkit offers resources for state and local governments as well as health care organizations to ensure everyone has equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine.
We can also help by sharing accurate information on how to protect one another from COVID-19.
To help move Latinos from vaccine hesitancy to vaccine confidence, Salud America! is uplifting the stories of real Latinos who overcame misinformation, got the vaccine, reconnected with family, and are helping end the pandemic.
- Rosa Herrera read on Facebook that the vaccine would inject her with a microchip. She learned that was a myth. See exactly what changed her heart and pushed her to get the vaccine! (en español)
- Jesus Larralde was nervous about the vaccine’s possible side effects. His wife got the vaccine and was fine. See exactly what changed his heart and pushed him to get the vaccine! (en español)
- Helen Cordova thought the vaccine was rushed. But she did her research and learned the vaccine’s safety, and volunteered to be the first person in California to get the vaccine! See exactly what changed her heart! (en español)