The study used data from the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Labor to reveal that Hispanics made up 40% of COVID-19 deaths in the United States, but made up only 19% of the population in 2020.
The report shows Hispanics between the ages of 30 and 59 faced the greatest death burden from COVID-19.
Study co-author Phoenix Do, associate professor at the Zilber School of Public Health at the University of Milwaukee, told News 5 that his research indicated that higher death rates among active Hispanics did not. nothing to do with pre-existing medical conditions, but instead, it was the workplace in frontline jobs that was a key driver of the health disparity.
“Safety at work is really the determining factor,” Do said.
“These occupations, the essential occupations of workers, tend to be poorly paid, so these groups do not have the privilege of staying at home.”
“There are really two pandemics, one for those who are wealthy and able to protect themselves, and the other, in which the rest of the workforce cannot.”
Do said his research also pointed to data from the US Department of Labor which indicated that the Occupational Health and Safety Administration collected 14,000 workplace complaints related to the virus, but issued fewer than 300 citations in 2020. Do said this shows better workplace monitoring is needed.
“There is not a sufficient amount of oversight or overview of the application of these workplace safety policies, and no universal paid sick leave,” Do said.
“These are policy issues that can be addressed, and most importantly, these results of our study are applicable to other infectious diseases, so it’s not just about COVID.”
Local Hispanic leader Juan Molina Crespo, executive director of Consultamos LLC, told News 5 that increased workplace monitoring at the federal level is desperately needed.
“Why is there no compliance, why is the federal government not doing what it is supposed to do, when it knows it could save lives in the Latin American community ”Said Crespo.
“Many of those affected are frontline workers, many in healthcare, low-paying jobs and unable to work from home. Many of them do not benefit from the benefits granted to other employees. “
“So they are the ones who will contract the virus and bring it home to their loved ones and to the communities in which they live.”
Crespo said much more focused awareness of COVID-19 is needed in Greater Cleveland, especially since the city has yet to hire a bilingual contact tracer.
“A lot of people don’t understand exactly what translated medical terminology means to them,” Crespo said.
“I am appalled that policy makers and elected officials in the city of Cleveland in particular have not been able to create the flow of funding and resources necessary to mobilize people.”
“Large hospital institutions with all their resources have also missed the mark.”
OSHA responded to our story and said it is making improvements in workplace law enforcement to protect some of the populations most vulnerable to COVID-19.
OSHA has issued the following statement:
“OSHA is committed to continually improving our ability to protect workers from exposure to COVID-19 and to stand up for those hardest hit by the pandemic.
As the pandemic has highlighted, OSHA’s mission is more important than ever. OSHA is focused on the work that needs to be done now to stop the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the health and safety of all workers – including essential workers, many of whom are people of color who have put their lives on. life at stake during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On March 12, OSHA released a National COVID-19 Emphasis Program, as well as updated our Interim Law Enforcement Response Plan. The program focuses our law enforcement efforts on companies that put the greatest number of workers at serious risk of contracting the coronavirus.
The agency is also actively recruiting to hire new safety and health compliance officers and is committed to increasing the number of OSHA inspectors. ”
Still, Crespo believes more comprehensive workplace accountability should have been established last spring for Hispanic frontline workers and all workers who cannot work remotely.
“Very low pay, no benefits, no health care, can’t work from home, work on the front line and they get sick,” Crespo said.
“This leads us to see how we are seen as useless, sort of disposable employees, and the numbers are starting to prove it.”