News Release

Latino Adults at Higher Risk of Socioeconomic Impacts from Long Covid


A statewide survey of Latinos in Colorado has found that nearly one-fourth of Latinos in the state are suffering from long-term Covid symptoms. Latino parents, meanwhile, “are three times as likely to suffer from long-term [Covid] symptoms relative to Latinos without children,” suggesting that families are “particularly vulnerable to economic challenges” associated with long Covid. 

Brookings subsequently created a national survey of Latino families with young children. They found that long Covid is “currently impacting a fourth of Latino families across the country”–– likely totaling around 3.5 million families. 

    Sugrue is the director of research at the Latino Policy Forum.

    Sanchez is a professor in the department of political science at the University of New Mexico, the founding Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Chair in Health Policy, and the executive director of the UNM Center for Social Policy. 

Sugrue and Sanchez spoke to the Institute for Public Accuracy this week. 

Sugrue said: “We know that long Covid has exacerbated the socioeconomic effects of Covid. Long Covid forces us to raise questions about the definition of disability. When you apply an equity lens, or a Latino lens, to that question, you’re forced to look at disability independent of immigration status––particularly when you think of all the people, regardless of immigration status, who worked essential jobs. Low income Latinos had higher excess mortality than almost any other group, greater even than healthcare workers. 

“That told us that it’s not just exposure, it’s exposure plus protection in the workforce. The Latinos who did not die had high rates of infection, so you’re going to see high rates of long Covid in that population.” 

Sanchez’s findings show “that higher income Latinos are far more likely to be diagnosed with long Covid than lower income workers. That’s most likely because of low insurance coverage rates. Early in the pandemic, even with the really high number of cases, low income Latinos had some of the lowest testing rates––but their case positivity rates were still through the roof.

“The vitriol targeting immigrants has also put a chill on low income Latinos wanting to give information to entities that appear to be working with the government. To be diagnosed with long Covid, you have to go to a doctor or clinic; to get into those places, you need to know how to work the system, and you have to have the resources to get into the system. So these findings can also be seen as a reflection of the marginalization of Latinos in the healthcare system. 

“We are not paying enough attention to the housing subsidies and food subsidies that are still needed. When you think about these low wage workers, their wages haven’t kept up with anywhere near inflation. Rents are skyrocketing. Who is helping people with rent? People can’t take out a mortgage right now. Yes, overall, the economy is looking better because 401(k)s look better. But what about people who don’t have a 401(k)?”

Sugrue said the next step is to “rethink the definition of disability. Regardless of immigration status, anybody who is ill, incapacitated, unable to work, and so forth, due to Covid… We need to think about how that becomes integrated into defining who is disabled.” 

Sanchez told the Institute for Public Accuracy: “The first time I put long Covid on a statewide poll in Colorado, Latino parents were three times as likely to report long Covid than single Latinos.”

He added: “Researchers are staring at data on health implications, but unfortunately, we’ve found that a high percentage of Latinos have already lost a job or feel as though they’re in danger of losing a job because of long Covid. They’re worried about missing time at work or being laid off. 

“Unfortunately, the data suggests that these families have used up their safety lifelines. Government resources don’t seem to be available.

“All of us on the panel agree that the finding that one-quarter of families are dealing with the effects of long Covid is an undercount of the reality––primarily because the highest income people are reporting symptoms, while the people on lower rungs of the socioeconomic ladder are probably not getting diagnosed. That’s a scary thing.”

Sanchez said that we also won’t see all the effects of this for quite some time: “The longer implication is that 20 percent of people reporting long Covid symptoms also say they have passed up job training or higher education opportunities because of their long Covid experiences.” 

Meanwhile, Sanchez calls for the first next step of “pushing universal sick leave. That’s the most basic but most impactful policy recommendation that we could have come out of this. The last thing you want is someone who is sick coming to work and risking more spillover.”