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Report examines why the pandemic disproportionately affected Hispanic community

Posted at 5:03 PM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-18 10:02:29-05

MAGIC VALLEY — The 2021 Hispanic Profile Data Book of Idaho, released by the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs, examined the Hispanic population growth among other things. This year they added an important new factor to the data analysis: COVID-19.

In the analysis, the authors wanted to examine whether or not the Hispanic and Latino community of Idaho was as disproportionately affected by the virus as the Hispanic and Latino communities in the rest of the nation. They say the answer they found was yes and no.

“For most of last summer, Hispanics made up about one-third of COVID-19 cases, so about 33 percent, and that number stayed really constant during the summer,” Priscilla Salant, Lead Author for the Hispanic Profile data cook for Idaho, said.

But their analysis found that the number of cases slowly started to decline.

“When fall came, that number started declining gradually until today. Hispanics make up less than one in five, the numbers 19 percent of COVID cases, that is a really dramatic change,” Salant said.

Although it could take some time before they figure out why the Hispanic population was disproportionately affected by the virus, they say there are a lot of contributing factors. One is the fact that Idaho's Hispanic population is generally younger than the rest of the population. The median age for the Hispanic population is 25 while the median age for the rest of the population is 39.

“The key again is that the Hispanics in Idaho are a relatively young population, whose age structure really reflects the age structure of people who are most likely to get COVID-19,” Salant said.

They also say the fact that a majority of the Hispanic and Latino community in Idaho work in manufacturing plants and production facilities has played a big part. Workers in those facilities usually work in close proximity and can not easily social distance.

“Some number of Hispanic workers at these plants became infected before anybody knew what was going on and before anybody had any idea on how to respond,” Salant said.

The Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs says their goal with this data book is to provide everyone with access to accurate information on the Hispanic and Latino community.

“So it gives everyone an opportunity to learn more about their community and what the Hispanic population looks like in their community,” Margie Gonzalez, Executive Director of the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs, said.

To read the full report, you can visit the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs website.