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A Global View of COVID’s Impact on U.S. Latinos: What So Many Miss

By Noreen Sugrue, Director of Research, Latino Policy Forum


COVID has certainly elevated the importance of undertaking global analysis about economic and social inequities in order to more fully understand that those have led to COVID’s disproportionate impact across the globe. This is especially true among the economically disadvantaged.

We know that COVID has had and continues to have a disproportionately devastating impact on Latino, Black, and other communities of color. In the United States, the disproportionate impact COVID has had on racial/ethnic minorities is mentioned quite often in many analyses and discussions of COVID. Nonetheless, what has not been mentioned nearly enough is just how disproportionately Latinos in the United States have been impacted by COVID. For instance, using the 2020 Census results and the CDC COVID data tracker, we find that almost ten percent of Latinos have been diagnosed with COVID—higher than for Blacks and whites—and they have a death rate of about 138 per 100,000 persons.

A close look at the Illinois data finds an even greater disparity for Latinos. Specifically, Latinos in the state have a death rate of approximately 171 per 100,000 persons and the highest rate of cases, with more than 11 percent diagnosed with COVID.

Because COVID worldwide is disproportionately devastating marginalized or poorer communities, it is important to place the U.S. Latino population in the global context. Given the population of the United States compared to the rest of the world, that differential impact is even more striking when COVID’s impact within the U.S. Latino community is seen in a global context.

Latinos account for less than one percent of the global population, yet almost three percent of COVID cases globally. Global death rates also paint a jarring picture of COVID’s impact on the Latino community in this country. The global death rate from COVID is about 58 per 100,000 persons, while for U.S. Latinos it is approximately 138 per 100,000 persons. Looking at the Illinois data once again, the numbers paint a vivid picture of COVID’s disproportionate impact on Latinos of working age. Specifically, approximately 70 percent of Latino cases and 29 percent of Latino deaths in Illinois are those between the ages of 20 and 59. This translates into a large loss of both national and global human capital and productivity. The U.S. Latino population continues to grow at a rapid rate and trends on the younger side, and is therefore an integral part of economic durability and stability both nationally and globally.

The loss of life and the potential disability that COVID is bringing to the Latino community in the United States present challenges that cannot be ignored and must be at the epicenter of all policy and resource decisions related to COVID recovery.

Notably, if U.S. Latinos were their own country, their GDP would represent the seventh-largest and third-fastest growing economy in the world. Understanding COVID’s devastation to the Latino community in a global context forces us to ask what policies and equitable resource allocations are necessary in order for the community to recover and thrive. Its recovery is a necessary condition for social and economic recovery from COVID here in the United States and worldwide.