Health Inequity in the Hispanic/Latinx Population During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Nurse practitioner Alexander Panis awaits his next patient at a mobile COVID-19 testing station in a public school parking area in Compton, California, just south of Los Angeles, on April 28, 2020. – St. John’s Well Child and Family Center is providing COVID-19 testing sites in African-American and Latino communities which have been neglected in terms of testing as compared to wealthier areas of Los Angeles County. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)
As SARS-CoV-2 has spread around the world, major health disparities have become apparent among patients with COVID-19, particularly in the Hispanic/Latinx community.

With the adverse impact that coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has had on the Latinx community, certain strategies should be implemented to achieve health equity, according to study results recently published in Infectious Diseases.

As of August 28, >5.8 million people had been infected and >180,000 had died from severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although this virus can affect all individuals, prior pandemics have had heightened effects on vulnerable populations, which include racial and ethnic minority groups. With this COVID-19 pandemic, data have shown a particular adverse impact on the Latinx community.

The largest ethnic minority group in the United States is the Hispanic population, comprising ~60 million people and constituting 18% of the total population. Furthermore, as reported from the CDC, the Hispanic population accounts for 28.4% of all US COVID-19 cases that have been reported with known ethnicity (31 states plus DC). In 27 (87%) of these states, the percentage of Hispanic COVID-19 cases notably exceeded the Hispanic proportion in the state population. In addition, the CDC has reported that Hispanics comprise 14.2% of COVID-19–associated hospitalizations across 14 states. Although Hispanic-specific COVID-19 mortality data are lacking, New York City reported a 2-fold higher age-adjusted death rate for the Hispanic population when compared with Whites (204.6/100,000 vs 90.4/100,000).

These data expose the disproportionate vulnerability to poor outcomes of key population groups, including the Latinx population. To address this disparate impact of COVID-19 on the Latinx community, evidence-based, health equity-promoting strategies need to be implemented with the prevention to testing to treatment and care continuum for COVID-19.

Some examples of strategies that should be implemented in the near future are as follows:

  • Health and COVID-19 prevention communication and outreach in the Latinx population that is culturally and historically sensitive
  • Establishment of trust between communities and healthcare delivery teams to ensure high-quality care for COVID-19 and prevention of related comorbid disease
  • Full access to SARS-CoV-2 testing when needed
  • Ambulatory access and inpatient hospital care that is adequate and flexible for all to receive necessary COVID-19 management
  • Collection of testing, case, hospitalization, and death data across all territories in the United States that have sociodemographic delineation to help guide effective and strategic interventions and deployment of resources to communities in need

Overall, the study authors concluded that, “As SARS-CoV-2 has spread to all corners of the globe, it has reminded us that we are all inextricably intertwined, and has highlighted with urgency the substantive work that remains to be done to eliminate health disparities and achieve health equity, in order to ultimately maximize positive health outcomes for all.”


Gil RM, Marcelin JR, Zuniga-Blanco B, Marquez C, Mathew T, Piggott DA. COVID-19 pandemic: disparate health impact on the Hispanic/Latinx population in the United States [published online July 30, 2020]. Infect Dis. doi:10.1093/infdis/jiaa474/5878913