COVID-19 death rate among CA Latinos sharply increasing, UCLA study finds

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A new UCLA study amplifies the reality that Latinos across California are experiencing a growing and disproportionately high death rate associated with COVID-19.

"It quintupled between May 11 and August 11 - it quintupled," said Dr. David E. Hayes-Bautista, director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at the school of medicine, UCLA.

For 18-34 year-olds, the rate increased nearly six times, five times for 35-49 year-olds, and nearly six times for 50-64 year-olds. UCLA researchers say they were surprised by the results, especially among younger Latinos.

"Even though their rates were relatively low compared to the older folks, still it quintupled," said Hayes -Bautista.

The study points to exposure of unsung essential workers as a key factor.

"We forgot that the farmworkers who grow the food that we eat, and the packinghouse workers...and the truckers and the grocery store clerks and the gardeners and the construction workers and the automobile mechanics and the attendants in nursing homes and the office cleaners - are also essential workers," he said.

There's many variables that affect the likelihood of survival, and prevention and early intervention are key.

"They have higher exposure, far less likely to get the personal protective equipment, far less likely to get tested," said Hayes Bautista. "Way at the very end, particularly for older people, if there are pre existing conditions, comorbidities...that seems to increase the mortality a bit but that's way at the end."

According to data from the California Department of Public Health, as of Aug. 26, Latinos made up 48% of cases but just 39% of the state's population. Meanwhile white Californians made up 30% of COVID-19-related deaths and 37% of the population.

In the short term Hayes-Bautista said the solution is to not overlook but to protect all essential workers. In the long term he said the solution is universal healthcare.

"We're the only country in which these essential workers just simply don't have access to health care."
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