The Devastating Impact of Coronavirus on Hispanic Communities

Healthcare News

The Devastating Impact of Coronavirus on Hispanic Communities

Dr. Joseph Mosquera
By Dr. Joseph Mosquera
Jan 13, 2021
The Devastating Impact of Coronavirus on Hispanic Communities

Coronavirus has turned the world upside down. As a physician in the metro NY/NJ region, I’ve seen this first hand. As of this writing, I’ve treated more than 3,000 individuals infected with COVID-19. What my experience has shown, coincides with similar reports from the CDC, which make clear that this respiratory virus does not affect all communities equally. Instead, it is disproportionately affecting specific demographics, including Hispanic and Latinx communities.

Of the 3,000+ patients I’ve treated for COVID-19, 70% of those patients are Hispanic.

In many ways, this should not come as a surprise. After all, going back more than 100 years to the pandemic of 1918, social inequities have always contributed to poorer health outcomes for certain communities. The coronavirus pandemic has merely unmasked the ugly reality of inequities that have been ongoing for centuries.

Here is a look at how and why coronavirus is having such a devastating impact on Hispanic and Latinx communities.

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How has the coronavirus impacted Hispanic communities?

COVID-19 has torn through some Hispanic and Latino communities, leaving countless grieving families in its wake. These communities have been especially hard hit due to a variety of social inequities. Some of these inequities include:

  • Poverty
  • Being part of the essential workforce (hospitality, grocery/retail, etc.)
  • More frequent use of public transit
  • Residing in high-density urban areas
  • Residing in multi-generational homes
  • Language barriers (lack of access to Spanish speaking medical professionals)
  • Lack of insurance, or underinsurance

You’ll notice that I specifically mention “some” Hispanic and Latinx communities. With more than 25 different cultures falling under the demographic of “Hispanic,” disparities in rates of infections, hospitalizations, and fatalities exist within the Hispanic and Latinx communities.

Generally speaking, Hispanic and Latinx individuals who are fluent in English, who have grown up in the United States, and who have established health insurance are not struggling with as many barriers or obstacles to care, as those who are less established in the U.S.

Why does the Hispanic population have higher hospital rates for COVID-19?

There are higher rates of comorbidities amongst Hispanic and Latino demographics, which results in a greater likelihood of hospitalization. These include diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, COPD, and liver disease. Individuals with these comorbidities tend to get sicker from coronavirus than those without them.

Unfortunately, Hispanic and Latinx communities also seem to delay health care longer than some other demographics. This again can be traced at least in part, to inequities in financial status, and other barriers to care, such as language hurdles. Uninsured, or underinsured individuals and those who have difficulty with English are more likely to put off seeing a doctor. Sadly, this often means that by the time they do see a health care provider, they are very sick, and require hospitalization.

What should members of Hispanic communities do to stay safe during COVID-19?

Irrespective of heritage, we can all do our best to stay safe during COVID-19. This of course includes frequent hand washing, wearing masks, limiting contact with those outside our homes, and social distancing. It also includes a commitment to living a healthy lifestyle, to strengthen our immune systems.

It should be noted that we’ve recently seen an uptick in the numbers of young Hispanic and Latino individuals becoming very ill with the virus. So please remember, although those over 65 are most at risk for a negative outcome, coronavirus is sickening lots of young people as well.

Vitamins to Improve Immune System

Evidence has shown that certain vitamins and supplements can help boost your immune system. These include:

  • Vitamin D3
  • Vitamin C
  • Zinc
  • Quercetin
  • Melatonin

Over-the-counter elderberry tablets, capsules, and syrups may also offer benefits to your immune system. Using an RxSaver card may help you to save money on immunity-boosting over-the-counter medications and supplements. Ask your doctor to write a prescription for these vitamins versus buying them over-the-counter, and present the RxSaver card when picking up the vitamin prescription.

Exercise to Boost Your Immune System

Exercising is an excellent way to keep your immune system strong. A brisk daily walk is a simple, free way to help your immune system. Bike riding, or any other type of cardiovascular workout that you can do safely, and socially distanced from others can also help give your immune system a boost.

Adopt a Plant-Based Diet with Lean Protein

A plant-based diet, supplemented by lean protein (fish, chicken) can help boost your immune system. Leafy green vegetables are full of vitamins and nutrients your body needs to maintain a strong immune system.

Get the COVID-19 Vaccine When Available

The COVID-19 vaccines represent the light at the end of the tunnel. As soon as you can get the vaccine, you should schedule it, as long as you do not have conditions that would prevent you from getting it. Speak with your doctor before you get your vaccine.

COVID-19 Symptoms That Require Immediate Medical Treatment

Now is not the time to delay medical care. If you experience any flu-like symptoms, such as fever, fatigue, and muscle aches, you need to seek treatment.

Likewise, if you experience any difficulty in breathing, any chest pain, or any shortness of breath, you need to receive medical care immediately. A pulse oximeter, which can be purchased at most drug stores or online, can help you monitor your oxygen levels, and may be worth the investment if you have underlying comorbidities or conditions such as asthma.

Fortunately, the emergence of thousands of urgent care centers throughout the nation has helped to make health care more affordable. Urgent cares also provide an alternative to going to the ER, if you develop symptoms after standard office hours or on the weekend.

Improving Outcomes of COVID-19 in Hispanic and Latinx Communities

We all need to do our part to improve health outcomes in the Hispanic and Latinx communities. Social inequities will not be resolved overnight, but we can take action in the meantime to improve outcomes.

We can encourage Hispanics and Latinos to choose a career in health care. Although Hispanics account for approximately 18- 20% of the population, just 2-3% of healthcare workers are of Hispanic or Latino heritage. The addition of more bilingual individuals in medical settings will help with language barriers.

Churches play a central role in many Hispanic communities and can help to educate their congregations on the importance of staying vigilant, and seeking medical care at the first sign of sickness. Community leaders can play a role in making sure congregations know about onsite urgent care clinics at national pharmacies and retailers such as Walmart.

Finally, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists can also help by making sure that every single patient knows that there are ways to save on their prescription medications, through using prescription drug coupons from free apps such as RxSaver. People must take their medication as prescribed, particularly during a pandemic. However, with millions of jobs lost, too many families are in dire financial straits.

RxSaver drug coupons can slash the costs of medications, helping patients to save up to 85% on medications. The RxSaver app can be used by anyone with a smartphone and will show patients which pharmacy in the local area has the best price on their medicine. The difference in prices can be significant, even between pharmacies in the same neighborhood.

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The Future Of Health in Hispanic Communities

Nearly a year after the pandemic erupted on the world stage, we have made a great deal of progress in treatments, diagnosis, and soon, prevention. But we are not out of the woods yet, so Hispanic and Latinx communities must continue to be resilient and to follow all public health guidelines. Moving forward, we will need to focus on tackling the social inequities that have been revealed by this virus, so that specific demographics do not continue to experience disproportionately inadequate health outcomes.

Dr. Joseph Mosquera

Dr. Joseph Mosquera

Dr. Joseph Mosquera has over 35 years of experience as an integrative general practitioner in Newark, NJ. Mosquera is a graduate of Rutgers Medical School (now UMDNJ). He studied neurology at George Washington University Hospital and completed his residency and training in Internal Medicine at Hackensack University Medical Center. He then went on to graduate from the University of Arizona Medical School’s Program in Integrative Medicine in 2004. Dr. Mosquera is also a Harvard Medical School Fellowship graduate in Structural Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine and is certified in Ericksonian Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy. He has served as the Clinical Director of Integrative Medicine at St. Michael’s Medical Center (Newark, NJ), an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Arizona Medical School, an Instructor at UMDNJ in “The Art of Medicine”, and a Lecturer of Integrative Medicine at both Harvard and Georgetown University Medical Schools. He has held a Board Certification in Internal Medicine since 1984 and is licensed to practice medicine in five states (NY, NJ, MA, NH, FL). Since 2003, Dr. Mosquera has been a regular Medical/Health expert and contributor to Univision, Telemundo, as well as CNN and NBC’s the “Today Show.” He has served as a Medical and Health expert for Consumer Reports Health since 2008. He is currently a medical expert for RxSaver.

The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.

If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.