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Latinas Bear Disproportionate Burden During COVID-19, SANDAG Data Finds

A free San Diego County COVID-19 testing site at the Tubman-Chavez Community ...

Photo by KPBS Staff

Above: A free San Diego County COVID-19 testing site at the Tubman-Chavez Community Center. Oct. 6, 2020.

Latinas are bearing a disproportionately high burden from the COVID-19 pandemic in San Diego County, a local nonprofit and Latina elected officials said Tuesday as they shared data from the San Diego Association of Governments.

According to Latina-focused nonprofit MANA de San Diego, this comes as Latino households already had lower pre-pandemic wages, less access to health care and job-related benefits. Latinas in particular have faced increased job losses and threats of economic insecurity, they said.

Listen to this story by Max Rivlin-Nadler.

Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas, a member of SANDAG's Board of Directors, shared that while Latinas comprise around 17% of the county's population, around 60% of that population is working in the three industries most impacted by job loss during the pandemic — tourism, retail and education. Latinas account for 14% of total county employment, but 20% of employment in those sectors.

"The hardest hit sectors in the economy were tourism, retail, and education," said Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas. "If you look at the numbers, the education, retail, and tourism industries represent 80% of the job losses."

Data from SANDAG paints a bleak picture in regard to Latinas during the pandemic. When compared to the white population, Hispanic populations are almost three times as likely to live in areas that have been highly impacted by COVID-19 and unemployment. Additionally, Hispanic residents account for a significant portion of essential workers, and many became unemployed due to temporary business closures as a result of COVID-19.

A total of 70% of Hispanic households are in ZIP codes with above average unemployment, 49% in ZIP codes with above average COVID-19 cases and 42% of Hispanic households are in ZIP codes with both above average.

Reported by Max Rivlin-Nadler

More than 100,000 San Diegans have tested positive for the virus, and 57% of those have been Hispanic or Latino.

"As the pandemic grows in severity and stay-at-home orders are strengthened, it is the county's Latina population that will continue to face a disproportionate amount of risk and negative impacts," a statement from MANA de San Diego said.

A Harvard, NPR and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation study also found 46% of Latino households have used up "most or all" of their savings during the pandemic, with an additional 15% reporting they had no savings before COVID- 19 hit the United States.

The same study found 66% of Latino households with children report serious problems caring for their children, including 36% who report serious problems keeping their children's education going.

"Latinas so often go unseen," said state assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez. "But we are in fact the lowest paid of any demographic in California. We earn about 44 cents on the dollar of a white male counterpart."

The event Tuesday morning featured a lineup of Latina elected officials representing communities from Oceanside to Chula Vista.

"MANA de San Diego will continue to do our part in creating upward social mobility for Latinas," said Inez Gonzalez Perezchia, MANA de San Diego's executive director. "We will work with our elected officials joining us today and we welcome allies to join us as well. This is just the beginning of the work that we expect to do in 2021."

MANA De San Diego is a nonprofit with a mission of empowering Latinas through education, leadership development, community service and advocacy.

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