Why Filipino Americans in SoCal are being hit hard by COVID-19 pandemic

Filipino Americans make up a quarter of California's Asian American population, but a study shows the mortality rate for those who contract COVID-19 is a disturbing 40%.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Filipino Americans have been hit hard by the coronavirus, especially in Southern California.

Filipino Americans make up a quarter of California's Asian American population, but a study shows the mortality rate for those who contract COVID-19 is a disturbing 40%.

Many of them are health care workers on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19.

For example, Melissa Rue, her parents and her brother are all nurses at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

"The unknown is what's scary," Rue said.

While caregivers fight to save lives, the virus is taking a toll on the Filipino community.

"Many of us are health care workers and what happens is that we're exposed to community acquired infections and we bring it home to our own very vulnerable family members," said Peachy Hain, executive director of nursing at Cedars-Sinai.

The Los Angeles Times reports that of the 48 Filipino Americans in Southern California known to have been infected with COVID-19, 19 have died.

"We tend to congregate between immediate and extended families," Hain said. "We have multi-generational housing. My mom lives with me. She's 91-years-old."

Many of those who died had diabetes and other pre-existing health conditions, but USC professor Dr. Adrian De Leon says poverty, high-fat diets and a lack of access to healthy food also contribute to the high mortality rate.

"I want to urge us to think more about the social fabric of economic and racial and cultural inequality as itself a pre-existing condition to the high rates of death among the Filipino American community and certainly other marginalized communities as well," De Leon said.
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