Langellier, Brent A. 2020. "Policy Recommendations to Address High Risk of COVID-19 Among Immigrants." American Journal of Public Health 110(8): 1137-1139.
ABSTRACT: The health and economic consequences of COVID-19 will be devastatingly widespread, but the populations that will suffer most are those who have experienced longstanding health disparities. For example, emerging evidence strongly suggests that incidence and case fatality rates are higher among Blacks than Whites.1 Immigrants are among the groups most likely to experience disproportionate effects from COVID-19. Unlike race/ ethnicity, however, nativity and citizenship status are not included on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) coronavirus case report form,2 so data regarding testing and spread across immigrant groups are likely to remain scarce. Information from other health and social surveys-including data that I present in Table 1-suggest that noncitizens experience barriers to physical distancing that will place them at high risk of contracting COVID-19 and have high levels of disadvantage that leave them vulnerable to its economic effects. I recommend three policy changes to address the high health and economic risk among noncitizens, goals that are in the best interest of public health and the broader economy. Noncitizens face barriers to physical distancing that leave them at high risk of contracting COVID-19. Compared with US-born citizens, noncitizens live in larger households and in homes with more occupants per bedroom and are more likely to live in multifamily housing structures.Just 57% of noncitizens live in a single-family housing structure, and 22% live in large units with 10 or more families. Noncitizens work in industries and occupations that cannot be performed remotely -data from the February 2020 Current Population Survey show that noncitizens make up 9% of the labor force but 22% of workers in the agricultural industry, 13% in the restaurant industry, 18% of construction workers, and 14% of warehouse workers. As the economy reopens, noncitizens may also experience increased risk related to their commutes to work, because they use public transit at nearly double the rate of US-born noncitizens.