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Percentage of Hispanics
Hispanic inequality
Source: Covid Tracking Project.
Double blow: covid-19 and unemployment
Source: Economic Policy Institute.
SPECIAL PROJECT

SCARS of the
PANDEMIC

To be Hispanic in coronavirus times has more than its fair share of consequences. Latinos were the first to get sick and also the first to lose their jobs. Allapattah, a small South Florida neighborhood, is a prime example of how covid-19 ended up hurting a poor community.
By Mauricio Pons, Esther Poveda, Andrea Zárate, Ana Azpúrua, María del Carmen Aguilar, Javier Figueroa, Patricia Vélez
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From New York to Miami, the epicenter of the pandemic has reached areas with large Latino populations. Hispanics have also been exposed to the economic blow of covid-19.

Case rate by race/ethnicity

Total per 100,000 people

Hispanic

1,984

0

1,000

2,000

2,500

African American

1,889

0

1,000

2,000

2,500

White

894

0

1,000

2,000

2,500

Total

1,977

0

1,000

2,000

2,500

Note: According to the CDC, American Indians and Alaska Natives are disproportionately affected, but the data is very limited.

 

Source: The Covid Tracking Project.

Case rate by race/ethnicity

Total per 100,000 people

Hispanic

1,984

0

1,0 00

2,000

2,500

African American

1,889

0

1,000

2,000

2,500

White

894

0

1,000

2,000

2,500

Total

1,977

0

1,000

2,000

2,500

Note: According to the CDC, American Indians and Alaska Natives are disproportionately affected, but the data is very limited.

 

Source: The Covid Tracking Project.

Case rate by race/ethnicity

Total per 100,000 people

1,984

Hispanic

0

1,000

2,000

2,500

1,889

African American

0

1,000

2,000

2,500

894

White

0

1,000

2,000

2,500

1,977

Total

0

1,000

2,000

2,500

Note: According to the CDC, American Indians and Alaska Natives are disproportionately affected, but the data is very limited.

 

Source: The Covid Tracking Project.

The available data shows a disproportionate blow to Latinos: in these states, the percentage of known covid-19 infections among Hispanics exceeds their proportion of the population.

In these states, the unemployment rate among Hispanics rose to at least 14% in the second quarter of 2020.

In Florida, the epicenter of the pandemic in mid-July, Hispanics made up 44% of cases, despite being 25% of the population.

In Miami-Dade, the county with the second highest number of accumulated cases of coronavirus, Allapattah is one of the most affected areas.

Flavia says that her first coronavirus symptoms were a slight cough and a feeling in her body that she can hardly describe. "I just started taking something for the cough, ibuprofen, corn on the cob ... homemade things," she recalls. She was terrified of going to an emergency room and becoming the protagonist in one of the tragic stories she saw on television.

“I looked at the situations in hospitals, for example, in New York, how people left home and didn’t return. Then I would say, 'I can't go to the hospital, I have my little daughter, what will become of her?’” she says. But that huge fear was just one of several factors causing a worsening tightening in her chest.

The coronavirus got into her house, adding to the problems she has juggled since she migrated with her husband from Nicaragua to the United States 14 years ago. She’s undocumented and doesn’t have a driver's license or health insurance, and when the pandemic raged in her neighborhood, Allapattah, she also lost her job cleaning houses. The same thing happened to her husband, who worked in construction.

Andrea Zárate / Univision

Allapattah is a Hispanic neighborhood where one out of every three households lives in poverty. The arrival of the pandemic exposed this silent crisis that had been brewing for years.

In the case of Latinos, “a lot has to do with the fact that they work in the hospitality industry. In March and April, we had closures that hit them greatly,” explains Olugbenga Ajilore, senior economist at the Center for American Progress. Women, he adds, were the worst affected, registering 20% ​​unemployment in April, higher than any other group.

"You have to look at what types of jobs they have and how they work in the hospitality industry, they are on the front lines of this pandemic and are more likely to contract the virus," says Ajilore. "Hispanics tend to have low-wage jobs, so it's not just about how much they earn, but about the benefits they have, access to sick leave, sick leave for a relative."

Allapattah: a vulnerable community

In the four zip codes that comprise this neighborhood, Latinos are especially exposed to the health and economic crisis.

Hispanics in Allapattah

Hispanics in the United States

Income below the poverty line

0%

50%

100%

No health insurance (19-64 years)

0%

50%

100%

No university education*

0%

50%

100%

Rented homes

0%

50%

100%

*25 years old and older.

 

Source: American Community Survey, 2014-2018.

Allapattah: a vulnerable community

In the four zip codes that comprise this neighborhood, Latinos are especially exposed to the health and economic crisis.

Hispanics in Allapattah

Hispanics in the United States

Income below the poverty line

0%

50%

100%

No health insurance (19-64 years)

0%

50%

100%

No university education*

0%

50%

100%

Rented homes

0%

50%

100%

*25 years old and older.

 

Source: American Community Survey, 2014-2018.

Allapattah: a vulnerable community

In the four zip codes that comprise this neighborhood, Latinos are especially exposed to the health and economic crisis.

Hispanics in Allapattah

Hispanics in the United States

Income below

the poverty line

0%

50%

100%

No health insurance

(19-64 years)

0%

50%

100%

No university education*

0%

50%

100%

Rented homes

0%

50%

100%

*25 years old and older.

 

Source: American Community Survey, 2014-2018.

According to a study by Univision News based on data from the American Community Survey, which analyzes census data, the median income of Allapattah does not exceed $30,000, and a large portion of the salary earned in sectors such as construction and services, is only enough to pay for rent. Moreover, Hispanics across the country live in a similar situation.

Portrait of inequality:

before the pandemic

Hispanics in the United States have less income, education and access to working remotely, which leaves them more vulnerable.

Hispanics in the United States

All in the United States

Income below the poverty line

0%

50%

100%

No health insurance (19-64 years)

0%

50%

100%

No university education*

0%

50%

100%

Rented homes

0%

50%

100%

Overcrowding

0%

50%

100%

No access to remote work

0%

50%

100%

Don’t speak English

0%

50%

100%

Income gap: Hispanics earn less than the national average.

Median household income

$49k

$60k

$0k

$40k

$80k

*25 years old and older.

 

Sources: American Community Survey, 2014-2018. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017-2018.

Portrait of inequality:

before the pandemic

Hispanics in the United States have less income, education and access to working remotely, which leaves them more vulnerable.

Hispanics in the United States

All in the United States

Income below the poverty line

0%

50%

100%

No health insurance (19-64 years)

0%

50%

100%

No university education*

0%

50%

100%

Rented homes

0%

50%

100%

Overcrowding

0%

50%

100%

No access to remote work

0%

50%

100%

Don’t speak English

0%

50%

100%

Income gap: Hispanics earn less than the national average.

Median household income

$49k

$60k

$0k

$40k

$80k

*25 years old and older.

 

Sources: American Community Survey, 2014-2018. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017-2018.

Portrait of inequality: before the pandemic

Hispanics in the United States have less income, education and access to working remotely, which leaves them more vulnerable.

Hispanics in the United States

All in the United States

Income below

the poverty line

50%

100%

0%

No health insurance

(19-64 years)

0%

50%

100%

No university education*

0%

50%

100%

Rented homes

50%

0%

100%

Overcrowding

50%

0%

100%

No access

to remote work

0%

50%

100%

Don’t speak English

0%

50%

100%

Income gap: Hispanics earn less than the national average.

$49k

Median household income

$60k

$0k

$40k

$80k

*25 years old and older.

 

Sources: American Community Survey, 2014-2018. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017-2018.

At Flavia's house, the coronavirus resulted in 21 days of confinement that were spent praying that they not infect their 14-year-old daughter and the agony of finding ways to put food on the table each day.

Only two of the houses that Flavia cleaned called her again. Others stopped hiring her as they feared that she could catch the virus on a bus and make everyone sick. The $1,500 she made a month almost completely dried up, leaving her with only $200. “Between the health crisis and this economic crisis, you don't even know what’s going to happen to you,” says Flavia, speaking slowly.

Mauricio Rodríguez / Univision

“There comes a time when you feel anxious. When we were sick, I felt like I was short of breath (...) It's the anxiety of whether I'm going to get out of this or what’s going to happen, if we are going to be able to pay the bills, the rent, all that,” explains Flavia.

Undocumented immigrants like Flavia were excluded from the massive $2.2 billion stimulus package approved in March by Congress. They borrow here and there to pay rent and feed themselves thanks to donations from community organizations.

And her daughter, who is a US citizen, was also left out, like 5.1 million other children, mostly born in this country, relegated from benefits due to the status of their parents, according to a report by the Center for American Progress.

“If we have a number to pay taxes, why can't that number help us to receive (help) at this very difficult time?” she asks, referring to the taxpayer's personal identification number, known as ITIN Number, which she uses to declare her taxes.

In addition to the virus,

record unemployment

Latinos enjoyed record low unemployment at the start of the year. But, in April, national unemployment reached its highest level in 40 years. The blow was more devastating for Hispanics. The employment situation has improved a bit lately; however, unemployment among Latinos is still more than double what it was in early 2020.

Hispanics in the United States

All in the United States

Unemployment rate

18.9%

20%

14.7%

13%

Start of the

Great Recession

Start of the

pandemic

10%

0%

2006

2008

2010

2012

2014

2016

2018

2020

Source: Department of Labor Statistics.

In addition to the virus,

record unemployment

Latinos enjoyed record low unemployment at the start of the year. But, in April, national unemployment reached its highest level in 40 years. The blow was more devastating for Hispanics. The employment situation has improved a bit lately; however, unemployment among Latinos is still more than double what it was in early 2020.

Hispanics in the United States

All in the United States

Unemployment rate

18.9%

20%

14.7%

13%

Start of the

Great Recession

Start of the

pandemic

10%

0%

2006

2008

2010

2012

2014

2016

2018

2020

Source: Department of Labor Statistics.

In addition to the virus, record unemployment

Latinos enjoyed record low unemployment at the start of the year. But, in April, national unemployment reached its highest level in 40 years. The blow was more devastating for Hispanics. The employment situation has improved a bit lately; however, unemployment among Latinos is still more than double what it was in early 2020.

Hispanics in the United States

All in the United States

Unemployment rate

20%

18.9%

14.7%

2008

Start of the

Great Recession

15%

13%

January 2020

Start of the pandemic

10%

5%

0%

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

AUG

Source: Department of Labor Statistics.

Where do Hispanics work?

Latino workers are focused in industries that were especially hit by the pandemic.

2019 figures*

100%

Educational and

health services

17.8%

Retail and

wholesale trade

13.2%

75%

Leisure and

hospitality

13%

Construction

50%

12.7%

Professional

services

11.6%

Manufacture

9.7%

25%

22%

Others

0%

Unemployment rate by industry

Feb

2020

Mar

2020

Apr

2020

May

2020

Jun

2020

Jul

2020

Aug

2020

0%

10%

20%

30%

40%

* Percentages of total Latino workers age 16 and over employed in non-agricultural industries.

 

Sources: Economic Policy Institute. Department of Labor Statistics.

Where do Hispanics work?

Latino workers are focused in industries that were especially hit by the pandemic.

2019 figures*

100%

Educational and

health services

17.8%

Retail and

wholesale trade

13.2%

75%

13%

Leisure and hospitality

Construction

50%

12.7%

Professional services

11.6%

Manufacture

9.7%

25%

22%

Others

0%

Unemployment rate by industry

Feb

2020

Mar

2020

Apr

2020

May

2020

Jun

2020

Jul

2020

Aug

2020

0%

10%

20%

30%

40%

*Percentages of total Latino workers age 16 and over employed in non-agricultural industries.

 

Sources: Economic Policy Institute. Department of Labor Statistics.

Where do Hispanics work?

Latino workers are focused in industries that were especially hit by the pandemic.

2019 figures*

100%

17.8%

Educational and health services

Retail and wholesale trade

13.2%

75%

Leisure and hospitality

13%

Construction

50%

12.7%

Professional services

11.6%

Manufacture

9.7%

25%

Others

22%

0%

Unemployment rate by industry

Feb

2020

Mar

2020

Apr

2020

May

2020

Jun

2020

Jul

2020

Aug

2020

0%

10%

20%

30%

40%

* Percentages of total Latino workers age 16 and over employed in non-agricultural industries.

 

Sources: Economic Policy Institute. Department of Labor Statistics.

Flavia's anxiety and hopelessness spread in Allapattah as quickly as the coronavirus. It hit with special brutality among small entrepreneurs who for years have been struggling to stay afloat as the Latino essence of the neighborhood has confronted the challenge of gentrification.

Mauricio Rodríguez / Univision

Since the 1950s, Allapattah has seen Hispanic migrants arrive. First were the Cubans and since the 1980s, mostly Dominicans and Hondurans.

Fernando Trinidad is one of them. He walks between the empty tables and chairs that were stacked after the last party he had in his ballroom. This Dominican cannot believe that his banquet hall, the business that had finally consolidated him as a small businessman, lost "the war against covid-19."

In a matter of days, nine years of work in Allapattah disappeared, where he settled after living in Europe and New Jersey. In that time, he had gone from being a barber to being the owner of a barbershop — a trade inherited from generation to generation in his family —, a hairdresser, a nail salon and an event room.

Mauricio Rodríguez / Univision

“Suddenly, something has come along that has torn everything down. All that I have accomplished in many years, has been taken away in three months by covid-19,” he says with anguish. His businesses, which previously made him $10,000 each week, now bring in about $3,000. "We are just trying to make ends meet to survive."

But he looks around him and realizes that the same pain that he feels is shared by his neighbors in Allapattah, a microcosm of business owners — 'mom and pop shops' — and their workers. The relationship between them is so close, that the bad luck of a few becomes everyone’s bad luck — a domino effect.

Mauricio Rodríguez / Univision

When the pandemic began to reap economic consequences, Corpus Christi church doubled the delivery of bags of food. More members of his community became unemployed.

A seven-minute walk from Fernando Trinidad's barber shop is Fidel Aquino's tailor shop. He’s also trying to keep his head above water, but out of 10 clients he used to serve a day, now only two arrive. Still, he’s unwilling to close the doors of his only business: “If I close, it's worse. If a client comes and can't find me, it's worse.”

At 79, he admits that he feels “drowned”, like never before since July 5, 2005, when he opened the tailor shop. He lives by "surviving," he says. He gathers as much as he can to pay rent and pays two employees while waiting to be approved for a small business loan that he requested under the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) approved in the CARES Act aid package.

Mauricio Rodríguez / Univision

"The rent doesn’t stop; the bills don’t stop. If we get $500, we pay $500 (...) It’s not covering much, but we are surviving," says Fidel Aquino in his Dominican accented Spanish. "We are going to hold-on in the name of God ... We are going to have faith."

There are no available figures on the number of businesses that have closed in Allapattah due to the coronavirus, but as of August, in all of Miami Dade County there were 14% fewer businesses open than there were in January, according to databases compiled by Harvard University and Brown University.

Mauricio Rodríguez / Univision

Allapattah is nestled within the metropolitan area that includes Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. When the crisis worsened in April and businesses closed due to covid confinement, the unemployment rate soared from 4.1% in March to 13.4% in April.

After months of the pandemic, that rate remains almost unchanged, at 13.2%, despite the fact that some businesses have reopened and the authorities have relaxed physical distancing orders, according to figures from the Labor Department for August.

Mauricio Rodríguez / Univision

“If you stop anyone on the street, they don't have a job,” says Amarilis, who has owned a small restaurant in Allapattah for more than 25 years.

Economic crises tend to be harshest on blacks and Hispanics. They are the first to be laid off and once the outlook improves they are the last to find a new job, explains Ajilore, an economist at the Center for American Progress. He envisions that the recovery from this crisis, the worst since the Great Depression, will stretch into next year or even 2022. It may take longer if Congress fails to approve new financial aid, such as the expansion of federal unemployment benefits.

"One of the things that people say about this pandemic is the scars it will leave ... There are specific groups that will never recover," he warns. "For Latinos, whether they are undocumented or not, it will be worse because they earn the least, they don't have protections, they don't have the benefits, they don't have the things that help them to be resilient in the economy," he emphasizes.

Not even the scurrying about of his children can lower the sense of anxiety felt in Aneuris Rojas' apartment. The odd-jobs that he used to get in construction or fixing tiles disappeared with the pandemic.

He speaks calmly and tries to put on a good face. He even finds the humor to make a joke while watching cartoons with the children. But the accumulated burden escapes him in occasional gestures, like when he squeezes his hands over and over again.

Aneuris has five children, the youngest is not yet a year old. He has been waiting for weeks for an answer to his request for unemployment benefit, the same crusade faced by almost 243,000 Hispanics who have applied for unemployment assistance in Florida since March and still haven’t received it.

Mauricio Rodríguez / Univision

“I have not worked in a long time (...) I applied for unemployment, but they still haven’t replied. I called and they tell me I have to wait, that I shouldn’t become desperate. I told them: 'I am desperate because I have five children in my house, I am not working, so what do I give them?’”

The savings he had with his wife — who is not working either — went down the drain and since "nothing comes in and we owe for everything," the possibility of being evicted with his family is what distresses him the most. "All parents fear is to not be able to pay for the house and to get behind three or four months and to hear them tell you: 'I'm sorry, you have to get out of here.' When you have a family, and especially if you have children, that is the biggest concern you can have.”

Nearly half of Hispanics in Florida who participated in the Census survey said it has been somewhat difficult or very difficult to meet their household expenses. The same happens when they were asked if they had any or no confidence that they will be able to pay their rent: 17% said they will not be able to do so and 29% said they have slight confidence in making it.

And while the debts accumulate, the emotional drain of the sum of those worries is brutal. “A traumatic event”, as described by psychologist María Basualdo, who helps Latino immigrants who have suffered trauma.

The impact of covid-19 on Hispanics

The Census consulted Hispanics between August 19 and 31 about the effects of the pandemic. These are some of their main concerns.

44%

reported difficulty in meeting household expenses.

48%

of Latinos who are behind in their rent see an eviction likely.

55%

reported feeling sad, depressed, or hopeless.

Note: estimates do not include those who did not answer each question. 26% of the Latinos surveyed did not answer the mental health question. The category of those who reported feeling sad or depressed includes those who did so for several days, half a week, or almost every day.

 

Source: Household Pulse Survey, Census Bureau.

The impact of covid-19 on Hispanics

The Census consulted Hispanics between August 19 and 31 about the effects of the

pandemic. These are some of their main

concerns.

44%

reported difficulty in meeting household expenses.

48%

of Latinos who are behind in their rent see an eviction likely.

55%

reported feeling sad, depressed, or hopeless.

Note: estimates do not include those who did not answer each question. 26% of the Latinos surveyed did not answer the mental health question. The category of those who reported feeling sad or depressed includes those who did so for several days, half a week, or almost every day.

 

Source: Household Pulse Survey, Census Bureau.

The impact of covid-19 on Hispanics

The Census consulted Hispanics between August 19 and 31 about the effects of the pandemic. These are some of their main concerns.

44%

reported difficulty in meeting household expenses.

48%

of Latinos who are behind in their rent see an eviction likely.

55%

reported feeling sad, depressed, or hopeless.

Note: estimates do not include those who did not answer each question. 26% of the Latinos surveyed did not answer the mental health question. The category of those who reported feeling sad or depressed includes those who did so for several days, half a week, or almost every day.

 

Source: Household Pulse Survey, Census Bureau.

Aneuris recognizes that at home he doesn’t sleep. The pandemic has turned everything upside down. He tries to play as much as he can with the children and his biggest distraction is going out for food, pushing the shopping cart and listening to the salsa and meringue that usually resonate through the streets of Allapattah.

He returns home and the uncertainty of what will happen haunts him again. And also, the helplessness he feels when his efforts aren’t enough to resolve the situation. "A hurricane could occur, but right now we are already trying to recover. We can work, but in this pandemic there is no work, there’s no way to be productive," he laments.

Andrea Zárate / Univision

Since the pandemic began, Aneuris, his wife and five children have been locked in their one-bedroom apartment. They only go out to buy food.

“For the most vulnerable people, the focus is how I am going to pay my rent, they do not talk about the pandemic,” he explains. “My immigrant patients are not afraid of covid, they are not afraid of being infected; they are afraid of not eating, of not having something to give to their children. Being afraid of catching it is a privilege. It’s terrible that this happens in the developed world, that someone is not afraid of dying because they are starving to death.”

CREDITS

PRODUCTION: Mauricio Rodríguez Pons, Esther Poveda
TEXTS: Patricia Vélez
VIDEO AND PHOTOGRAPHY: Mauricio Rodríguez, Esther Poveda, Andrea Zárate
INFOGRAPHICS: Ana Elena Azpúrua, Javier Figueroa, María del Carmen Aguilar
EDITOR: Patricia Clarembaux
DESIGN AND WEB DEVELOPMENT: Javier Figueroa, Juanje Gómez
SOCIAL MEDIA: María Carolina Hurtado
TRANSLATIONS: Andrea Zárate, David Adams
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: José Ángel Gonzalo
COMMUNICATIONS: Sandra Ramos, José Zamora
PROYECT COORDINATOR: Mauricio Rodríguez Pons

Sources and methodology: Covid-19 cases by county were collected through Sept 24 by the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. They only reflect confirmed or probable cases. Demographic indicators were obtained from the American Community Survey (2014-2018) of the Census and Social Explorer. The ethnicity information comes from The Covid Tracking Project, by The Atlantic Monthly Group (CC BY 4.0), and includes cases reported as of Sept 13. National unemployment figures were obtained from the Department of Labor Statistics. The unemployment estimate for Hispanics is from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and the analysis corresponds to 20 states.