FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 25, 2023
New UCLA Report Outlines Persistent Health Disparities Experienced by Latinos during COVID-19
With the U.S. ending the national COVID-19 public health emergency declaration this month, new UCLA research shows the impact that the pandemic has had on the Latino community and tracks how racial and ethnic health disparities have persisted since its onset.
A new report from the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Institute (LPPI) examines COVID-19 data to assess how racial disparities of COVID-19 have persisted over the last three years and to examine how successful vaccination campaigns were in reaching the most minoritized populations.
“We know from previous studies that Black, Latino and Asian people have been at higher risk of exposure and transmission because they are more likely to live in multigenerational homes, be employed as frontline workers, and have limited access to quality healthcare,” said Rosario Isabel Majano, the report’s lead author. “Our current research helps us evaluate how well our public health system has adapted, or not, to addressing health disparities present in minoritized populations. This is especially important as COVID-19 transitions to an endemic disease.”
Utilizing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the report shows that while COVID-related health outcomes have generally improved for Latino and Black populations across all geographic levels as the pandemic has progressed, critical disparities remain:
- As of February 2023, Latinos still represented a disproportionate share of cases for the U.S. and Los Angeles County.
- Hospitalization rates for the Black population have also remained disproportionately high compared to their share of the population and have shown no significant improvement since the start of the pandemic for the U.S., California, and Los Angeles County.
- COVID-19-related deaths among Latinos remain disproportionately higher than their share of the population in both California and Los Angeles County. Similarly, the Black population also continues to experience a disproportionate amount of COVID-19 related deaths across the country and in Los Angeles County.
The report also reveals that during the first six months that the COVID-19 vaccine was made available, Latino and Black populations across the U.S., California and Los Angeles County were the least likely to have completed their primary series of vaccines to protect against the virus. Although vaccination rates among Latino and Black populations have increased, California and Los Angeles County vaccination data shows as recently as January 2023, higher percentages of Black and Latino groups not completing their vaccination series in comparison to white and Asian populations.
“Persistent disparities in vaccination rates among Latino and Black populations indicate that despite the best efforts of many groups, there is still more work to be done,” said Misael Galdamez, a UCLA LPPI research analyst and one of the report’s authors. “We need to heal mistrust in the U.S. healthcare system among these communities and ensure that free or subsidized access to COVID-19 vaccines and boosters continues for the uninsured beyond the government ending the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency this month.”
The report includes a number of policy recommendations to address the racial and ethnic disparities experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic including improving the public health data infrastructure to include race and ethnicity information to accurately document disparities, continuing to support equitable access to relief programs and resources, ensuring free or subsidized access to vaccines and boosters for the uninsured, and reauthorizing and bolstering the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act.
“Our findings underscore the importance of developing robust public health data infrastructure,” said Arturo Vargas Bustamante, senior author of the report, professor of health policy and management and UCLA LPPI’s director of faculty research. “To equitably distribute resources, we need robust data to help us identify and respond to health inequities among marginalized populations. We need robust investments to modernize data systems to improve the way we respond to future health crises to minimize disparities experienced by communities of color.”
The report is part of UCLA LPPI’s ongoing efforts to make data about Latinos more accessible, digestible and actionable to policymakers, community-based organizations and the general public, and comes as the Institute gears up to launch its capstone Latino Data Hub (LDH) later this year.
ABOUT UCLA LATINO POLICY AND POLITICS INSTITUTE
The UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Institute addresses the most critical domestic policy challenges facing Latinos and other communities of color through research, advocacy, mobilization, and leadership development to expand genuine opportunity for all Americans.