Hispanics have been disproportionately hurt by the coronavirus pandemic because of their jobs as basic workers and living conditions for generations, according to a panel of health experts from Duke University.
“We are talking about people who, during this pandemic, were crucial in working in meat packaging factories and production. They were involved in the cleaning and maintenance of the buildings, ”said Dr. Viviana Martinez-Bianchi, a primary care physician and associate professor of family medicine and health at Duke, during a discussion Wednesday afternoon.
“While the rest of the country was quarantined or could stay at home to flatten the curve we were trying to make, the Latinx community continued to work. So what we see now are all those people who were basic workers, who worked without the disguise and protection that was legally required at the time of doing the job, now infected with the virus, ”Martinez-Bianchi said.
Rosa Gonzalez-Guarda, an associate professor at Duke University School of Nursing, agreed that the primary way in which the Latin American population causes coronavirus at a disproportionate rate is “simply going to work.”
Another problem: multigenerational homes. “Especially in this country, the similarities of people living together of different age groups, and some of their family members are basic workers, going to work and then bringing in, getting sick at work and returning it home,” Martinez-Bianchi said.
Gonzalez-Guarda said people need better protection in the workplace.
“This means not only providing disguise and social distance measures in the workplace, but also pressure on business owners to give workers paid sick leave so people don’t have to make a decision between going to work while sick and potentially infecting others or paying rent or insuring food at home, ”she said.
Another problem is access to testing, panelists said. Barriers to testing include financial issues and access to insurance.
“We need more investment of resources and attention from leaders, governments and healthcare facilities and business owners,” Gonzalez-Guarda said.