More than a year since data indicated that Latinos were among the groups experiencing the brunt of the novel coronavirus pandemic, a bilingual survey of thousands of U.S. Latinos by Pew Research finds that more than half of respondents, 52%, had a family member or close friend who was hospitalized or died due to the virus.
“During the pandemic, Hispanics have been at a higher risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19 than some other racial and ethnic groups in the U.S., in part due to large numbers who lack access to health care and have jobs that put them at greater risk of exposure to the virus,” researchers said.
Pew findings also noted that the survey of more than 3,300 U.S. Latinos found they faced harsher financial tolls, particularly among those lacking legal status. Nearly half of U.S. Latino respondents, 49%, said they or someone in their household lost employment or took a paycut due to the pandemic. Among respondents who aren’t U.S. citizens or lack documentation, that number was nearly 60%. Researchers said the number among Americans overall was 44%, per a survey earlier this year.
“About six-in-ten (62%) say they have experienced at least one of seven financial hardships asked about in the survey, with Latinos most often saying they have had trouble paying bills (35%) and gotten food from a food bank or other charitable organization.”
But findings also said that even as Latinos struggled in their own homes, many assisted family and friends who were in similarly difficult straits due to the pandemic, from lending cash to helping with child care. “A majority (58%) say they have helped relatives or close friends in several ways—by delivering groceries, running errands or caring for their children (39%), sending or loaning money to family or friends in another country (28%), or sending or loaning money to family or friends in the U.S. (26%),” findings said.
But respondents also expressed an optimism about the future, with a majority saying “they expect their financial situation and that of their family to improve over the next year,” researchers continued. Past research has shown that Latinos, along with Black Americans, “are far more likely to be optimistic than their white counterparts, both about their personal station in life and the future of the country more broadly,” The Atlantic said in 2015.
That appears to be continuing to today in relation to our efforts to recover from this pandemic. “As businesses reopen and we return to normal, folks who maybe had been out there day in and day out working on the front lines, seeing how hard it was, can maybe appreciate that a little better than some some other folks,” UnidosUS senior health policy analyst Matthew Snider told CNN.
NBC News notes that vaccination rates among Latinos have been lagging. The New York Times in March reported obstacles when it comes to vaccine accessibility, ranging from language and technology issues to lack of a primary health provider. Health disparities facing Latino families has highlighted the importance of the Biden administration’s initiative earlier this year directing more doses to community clinics, which have historically played important roles in serving Latino, Black, AAPI, and low-income communities.
In California, collaborative community efforts have also helped farmworkers access the vaccine. “The people who were doing the hardest work picking the fruit and processing it were the most hard hit by COVID-19, and it continues,” Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez told The San Francisco Chronicle. “The best way we can honor our frontline workers is what we’re doing today, which is getting them vaccinations.”