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Family with protective mask in the street

It is widely reported that COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting minorities, especially Hispanic and African-American communities. At the beginning of the pandemic, many Americans were blindsided by the virus. Some people mistakenly believed that COVID-19 was not that serious or even non-existent. Unfortunately, this misinformation played a major role in the spread of the virus among Hispanic and other populations. Today, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 794,558 people according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Many of the deaths have occurred among people of color.

COVID Impact

The good news is that the rate of new infections is declining overall and narrowing among races. As the pandemic shifts from urban to rural populations and people resume normal activities, new COVID infections are about even among White, Black, and Hispanic populations. The pandemic, however, has taken its toll on Hispanic households.

The Pew Research Center reports that nearly half of Hispanics in the United States know someone who was hospitalized or died because of the virus. In addition, nearly half of Hispanics know someone who lost their job or took a pay cut because of the pandemic. For immigrants, the negative impacts were even greater. Nearly 58 percent of Hispanic immigrants without citizenship or a green card lost their job or partial wages due to COVID-related shutdowns.

With the loss of income comes additional hardships, such as not having enough money to pay for rent, food, healthcare, and/or childcare. Many Hispanics reported applying for unemployment benefits and standing in line for food donations. In fact, nearly 78 percent of Hispanic households experienced one or more of these hardships. Yet despite financial and other hardships, there is hope that life will get better.

Vaccine Hesitancy

One of the best ways to stop the spread of COVID-19 is for people to get vaccinated. At the onset of the pandemic, the CDC reported that vaccine hesitancy was prevalent among Latino and other minority populations. Some Hispanic audiences were reluctant to get vaccinated because of immigration status and fear of the safety of the vaccine. The latest national data indicates that trend is also changing.

As of December 2021, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that 70.2 percent of people in the US received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. According to this data, the largest increase of new vaccinations occurred among Hispanic adults and young people ages 18-29 from July to September 2021. This trend is expected to continue as more Hispanic children get vaccinated. Although the rate of people getting vaccinated is favorable, minority populations still face health disparities. These disparities are based on socioeconomic and environmental factors and discriminatory practices in Alabama and across the nation.

COVID and Alabama Hispanics

In Alabama, Hispanics comprise four percent of the total population, four percent of COVID-19 cases, and roughly 4.4 percent of COVID-related deaths in Alabama. The underlying emotion in response to the pandemic is usually fear. For example, some Hispanics fear losing their jobs or seeing a doctor. There is also the fear of being uninsured or deported without proper documentation.

Alleviating COVID Fears

The key to alleviating some COVID fears is to educate audiences about the pandemic using reliable, culturally sensitive, and science-based information. As with other populations, Hispanics want access to available resources, including medical treatment even if they do not have health insurance. It’s also important to address immediate concerns and to make messages available to everyone, including those without Internet access.

More Information

Hispanics, like older adults, are leading the way in many communities in getting vaccinated for COVID-19. The US, however, has a long way to go in addressing health disparities that impact Hispanic and other minority populations.

Browse Alabama Extension’s website at www.aces.edu for more information about COVID-19.