COVID-19 deaths among young and working age Latinos skyrocket in California, study finds

California saw a five-fold increase in coronavirus death rates among Latinos of working age over the past three months when the state reported a surge in coronavirus cases after partially reopening its economy earlier this summer, according to a new study released Thursday by the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture, which is part of UCLA Health.

From May 11 to Aug. 11, researchers looked at the progression of coronavirus-related deaths across Latino communities in three different working age populations: Young adults (ages 18‒34); early middle age (35‒49); and late middle age (50‒64).

While COVID-19 deaths are burning their way through all Latino working-age populations, the death rate is highest for late middle-aged Latinos. At 54.73 deaths per 100,000 people, their death rate is about 25 times higher than the death rate among young adults, which saw a 2.12 mortality rate. Early middle-aged Latinos saw a 14.23 coronavirus death rate, nearly four times higher than the late middle-aged population.

“Anything that threatens the stability of our economy, like COVID-19’s inroads into the working-age population, needs to be taken seriously,” said David E. Hayes-Bautista, a health policy professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health who co-authored the report, in a statement. “The virus is falling on the working-age population, and the young Latino population is disproportionately represented in this demographic.”

Hayes-Bautista and fellow co-author Paul Hsu, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, said in the report that “as the coronavirus works its deadly way into every nook and cranny of California’s population, its victims’ profiles become clearer and clearer: they are the unsung essential workers” such as the “farm workers who feed California, truck drivers who transport the state’s goods, meat and vegetable packers, the grocery industry’s shelf stockers and checkout clerks, construction workers, automobile mechanics, gardeners and landscapers, bus drivers, office cleaners, nursing home attendants, and others who toil day and night to keep California functioning.”

José Roberto Álvarez Mena, 67, who worked as the head of maintenance for Mission Foods Corp., an American manufacturer of tortillas in Commerce, California, was one of them.

He died of COVID-19 on July 20; after his employer failed to report a coronavirus outbreak that sickened at least 40 of their workers, according to the Los Angeles Public Health Department.

The coronavirus has killed at least 12,407 people in California, nearly half of them are Latino.

“These aren’t just numbers. These are people. They’re mothers, fathers, siblings, uncles that are not with us anymore,” Alisha Álvarez, José Roberto‘s daughter, previously told Telemundo in Spanish.

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