What is it about?

During the early phases of the COVID pandemic, some populations endured the greatest increase in severe illness. When we compared hospitalizations due to influenza to those from COVID, Hispanic communities suffered a disproportionate impact from COVID, which was tragically foretold in a pre-pandemic publication. There are several potential explanations for the relative failure of mitigation strategies in Hispanic communities. In anticipation of future pandemics, we need plans informed by the unique challenges faced by individuals in all communities, especially those that perform critical services and are less well supported by an effective social system.

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Why is it important?

Public health mitigation strategies, such as social-distancing, are less effective for individuals unable to “shelter-in-place” due to on-site employment, reduced job mobility due to occupation, reduced opportunities associated with lower levels of educational attainment, and legal status. It is unclear how long of a time lag there was for public health messages to penetrate communities in which many residents preferred Spanish to English.


The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated that early during the pandemic, there were neighborhoods dramatically impacted by infection, hospitalization, and death. There was a relatively rapid awareness of these disparities and public health mobilized to minimize ongoing spread in these communities. However, public health was unable to resolve all problems that could have reduced transmission risk, such as paid-time off for illness, and there was a need for in-person work for those employed in critical jobs; for example, food production and distribution.

William Trick
Cook County Health

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Epidemiology of COVID-19 vs. influenza: Differential failure of COVID-19 mitigation among Hispanics, Cook County Health, Illinois, PLoS ONE, January 2021, PLOS,
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0240202.
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