California fails to protect Latino workers as coronavirus ravages communities of color.
“The underlying reasons why communities of color are disproportionately impacted by worse outcomes of COVID is also related to longstanding structural and systemic issues, including racism and historical disinvestments.”
As California sees a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, a group that has been especially hard hit are Latinos, who make up nearly 39% of the state’s population but 55% of its COVID-19 cases.
Latino residents are more than twice as likely as white residents to contract the virus. In San Francisco, of thousands tested in the Mission district in a study, 95% of people who tested positive were Latinos.
For every 100,000 Latino residents, 767 have tested positive. The Black community has also been hit particularly hard: for every 100,000 Black residents, 396 have tested positive. By comparison, 261 of every 100,000 white residents have confirmed infections.
That has led to growing calls for California to do more to protect essential workers.
Employers need to make workplaces safer, and testing and access to healthcare and other services should be ramped up for Latino and other non-white communities that are seeing major outbreaks, officials say.
In Los Angeles County, outbreaks are dramatically up at workplaces and offices, a category that includes warehouses, manufacturing plants, mail services, distribution services, waste management and retail.
“We … have a large epidemic really reflected up and down the West Coast, and also in Mexico, of essential workers from high-density neighborhoods — predominantly Latinx,” UC San Francisco epidemiologist and infectious-diseases expert Dr. George Rutherford said in a campus town hall forum last week. “And I fear that’s approaching endemicity.”
Experts say the biggest outbreaks have been in Southern California and the Central Valley. In those regions, the economies are particularly reliant on Latino workers, and a number of Latino residents tend to live in densely packed communities where COVID-19 can easily spread through extended families.