COVID-19: Why Hispanic communities are more exposed and less protected

August 20, 2020

How COVID-19 is affecting the Hispanic community

You have probably heard that in the U.S., a higher proportion of Hispanic people are getting sick from COVID-19 compared to white people. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (data from August 2020), the hospitalization rate due to COVID-19 among Hispanic people is 4.6 times higher than in Non-Hispanics whites.

Among those infected, many are pregnant women and new moms. As of August 11, the CDC has reported 16,798 cases of pregnant women who have tested positive for COVID-19. Of that amount, Hispanic women accounted for more than 6,400 cases.

COVID-19 and pregnancy

Recent studies suggest that COVID-19 symptoms are more severe among pregnant women than non-pregnant women. They are more likely to be admitted to the hospital or to the intensive care unit (ICU). Pregnant women who are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 also may be more likely to need a ventilator to breathe compared with non-pregnant women. This is not ok. At March of Dimes, we fight for the health of all moms and babies. We want to bring attention to this disparity (difference). All moms and babies deserve a healthy start in life.

Hispanic people in the U.S. are more exposed to the virus and less protected.

There are many reasons why Hispanic people are at a higher risk of getting COVID-19. They are more exposed to the virus and less protected. To make matters worse, if they get COVID-19, many face significant challenges to getting better.

Here are some of the factors that are affecting the Hispanic community:

Type of employment- Many Hispanic people have jobs that are considered essential, meaning they can’t be excused due to the pandemic. Many of them work in farms, factories, grocery stores, public transportation and in places where medical services are provided. These types of jobs can’t be done remotely or from home. This means many Hispanic people will be in contact with many people every day, increasing their risk of infection.

Many people in one household- In the Hispanic culture, it’s common for many generations to live together. For example, parents, children, grandparents, and sometimes in-laws live in the same household. This poses risks to families where young people who are exposed to the virus may bring it home, exposing the elderly in the family. Another challenge is how to isolate a sick person when physical space in the home is very limited.

Immigration status- Those in the Hispanic community who are undocumented may face additional challenges. Some examples are:

  • Qualifying for government help. Government programs, such as financial and unemployment assistance, mostly benefit documented immigrants, leaving out the most in need –those who don’t have legal documentation.
  • Fears of deportation. Even people who are eligible for government or medical services sometimes don’t get them because they are afraid of being deported.

Access to Health Services- Compared with other racial and ethnic groups in the US, Hispanic people are the least likely to have health insurance. This is a major disadvantage because many Hispanic people who have symptoms or who are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 do not have access to medical services or they only have limited access.

What resources may be available to the Hispanic community?

The US government provides services to help people cope with some of the problems the pandemic have increased. Look at the list below with resources that may be helpful to you and your family.

Food-assistance programs

These services are available for anyone who qualifies, regardless of their immigration status. They won’t ask you to provide a visa or any other documents to show your migratory status. For more information or to find contact information for your state, go to

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also called SNAP). This program used to be called the Food Stamp Program. It helps certain U.S. citizens and some non-citizens pay for food. For more information or to find contact information for your state, go to

Employment and financial assistance 

  • Unemployment benefits. If you are unemployed, you can find out if you qualify for unemployment benefits here. This information is also available in Spanish. Remember that each state sets its own guidelines for eligibility for unemployment benefits.
  • Emergency paid time off for child care and coronavirus. Did you know you may be eligible to take paid time off to deal with certain coronavirus health situations? The new Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. FFCRA is effective until December 31, 2020. Find out if your employer offers this benefit. To find out more about this new benefit visit the U.S. Department of Labor.