At the onset of the epidemic in the U.S., it was unclear precisely how COVID-19 would impact racially marginalized communities. However, based on what we know about health inequities in the U.S., we knew that the burden would be profound. States and cities began releasing troubling figures about the disproportionate death toll in African American communities. African American individuals accounted for 70% or more of deaths in Milwaukee and similar concerning disproportionate percentages were reported across the U.S., including in Chicago and in Washington, D.C. Initially data on the burden of COVID-19 for Latinx communities were scarce, with few states and cities systematically collecting or reporting on the extent to which the Latinx community was impacted by COVID-19. Furthermore, as states and localities began publishing data, concerns arose over the data’s completeness after initial reports indicated that the data suffered from very high rates of missing values. Anecdotally, providers perceived a concerning gap in the extent to which timely and key COVID-19 information was reaching Latinx communities. Hearing this gap from multiple Latinx physician leaders, in April 2020 we conducted a landscape analysis to better understand the communication needs and opportunities to support physicians and health care organizations working with the Latinx communities impacted by COVID-19.
Across the continuum of COVID-19, there are clear indicators this is a major issue. While the Latinx community accounts for 18% of the U.S. population, they now make up 33% of COVID-19 cases revealing the disproportionate toll on the community. As of June 2020, Latinx cases were disproportionately represented in 42 of the 50 states. For example, in Illinois, most new cases are now in predominantly Latinx communities where a high concentration of essential workers live.