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Latinos Getting COVID-19 At Four Times The Rate Of Whites In San Diego County

A man leaves a grocery store wearing a face mask Friday, April 17, 2020, in S...

Photo by Gregory Bull / AP Photo

Above: A man leaves a grocery store wearing a face mask Friday, April 17, 2020, in San Diego.

Multiple reports released Wednesday reveal that Latino, Black and Pacific Islander communities are more significantly impacted by both immediate health effects and economic effects due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to data from San Diego County, Latinos as a group make up 34% of the county's population, yet make up 67% of all known positive COVID-19 cases — 5,517 of the 8,201 cases where data on race were available. Latinos are getting COVID-19 at a rate of 479.4 per 100,000 people, a rate more than four times higher than that of the white population, who are testing positive for the illness at a rate of 112.6 per 100,000.

Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islanders are testing nearly as high as Latinos, 455.4 cases per 100,000, but comprise 67 cases, or .8% of all cases in the county. The Black population is testing at 202.4 per 100,000 and the Asian demographic 142.8 per 100,000, 3.6% and 6.3% of all cases, respectively. White people testing positive for COVID-19 make up 20.9%, or 1,718 of all cases where racial demographics are known.

These numbers are also reflected in a study from the San Diego Association of Governments, "COVID-19 Impact on the San Diego Regional Economy: Black and Hispanic Communities Hardest Hit."

"The report by Chief Economist Ray Major and his team focuses our attention on the needs of our Black and Hispanic communities," SANDAG Chair and Poway Mayor Steve Vaus said. "As regional elected officials and leaders, it is important for us to think strategically about how to coordinate with the Black and Hispanic communities — and all communities in need — to determine which programs and policies can put in place to guide an equitable recovery as businesses begin to reopen and as people return to work or look for new jobs."

The SANDAG report finds that when compared to the white population, Black and Latino populations are more than four times as likely to live in areas that have been impacted by COVID-19 and unemployment. More than two- thirds of the region's Black (67%) and Latino (70%) populations reside in ZIP codes with higher than average unemployment rates. Approximately half of Black (52%) and Latino (49%) residents live in ZIP codes with higher than average COVID-19 cases.

Areas most affected include Chula Vista, El Cajon, National City, City Heights, Logan Heights, Spring Valley, Golden Hill and San Ysidro.

As of June 7, the unemployment rate in the San Diego region was at 28.5%, leaving 480,000 residents without work.

"Since the stay home order was issued, the unemployment rate hit a historic high, not seen since the Great Depression," Major said. "As the economy starts to reopen and people go back to work, we believe unemployment rates will improve in the coming weeks."

White and Asian communities have been less impacted, with 14% and 24% respectively residing in areas experiencing high rates of unemployment and COVID-19 cases.

The report found that Black and Latino employees are overrepresented in the so-called high contact and essential workforces. Hispanic employees account for 32% of the overall workforce but represent 46% of those working in the food service industry and 37% of those working in the retail sector — excluding grocery and drugstore. Black employees account for nearly 5% of the overall workforce but represent more than 7% who work in childcare and social services, 9% in trucking, warehouse, and postal service and nearly 20% of public transit workers.

SANDAG also found Latino employees make up the largest percentage of the essential workforce in building cleaning services at 65%, grocery and drug stores at 44% and childcare and social services at 39% of those workforces.

Asian employees account for about 12% of the overall workforce but represent 22% of those working in the health care sector, while white employees account for 48% of the region's workforce, but only 40% of all workers in high- contact and essential occupations.

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