Latinos worry more than other Californians about how the coronavirus will affect them, poll says

Residents of San Francisco's Mission District and surrounding areas sign up for COVID-19 testing.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Latinos are much more anxious that they will become sick or affected financially by the novel coronavirus than their fellow Californians, according to a new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California.

The poll, released Monday, found that 61% of Latinos respondents were worried that they or their family members would get sick with the virus, compared with just 28% of Black and white Californians and 37% of Asian American residents.

Latinos also worry more about finances, with 56% saying they are concerned they or their family members will be affected financially by the pandemic. That compares with 31% of Black and Asian American poll respondents, and 22% of white respondents.

Latino respondents also reported that their lives have already been significantly disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and that their mental health is suffering as a result, more so than the other demographic groups.

The poll findings align with disparities Latinos are already known to be experiencing. Latinos make up nearly 39% of the state’s residents but represent 55% of its COVID-19 cases. According to reports from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Latino residents are twice as likely as white county residents to become infected.


The reason could be that Latinos more often work in essential industries than other demographic groups and are therefore limited in their ability to work from home.

According to a Times analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, Latinos make up just under 40% of California’s essential workforce.

A previous poll from the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies found that the agriculture industry is about 85% Latino. Additionally, 42% of Latino respondents said they could work from home, versus 53% of Black, 59% of Asian and 61% of white respondents.

The disproportionate impact of the pandemic has led to calls for the state to better protect its Latino essential workers.

In L.A. County, officials are cracking down on restaurants and factories that have experienced outbreaks or aren’t following coronavirus safety protocols established by the health department. In San Francisco, the Latino Task Force has been advocating for better protections and financial safety nets for workers who don’t have the option to work from home.