A new survey shows the COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly everyone in the state — more than 40% of Californians say they personally know someone who has tested positive for the virus and more than one in four know someone who has died from COVID-19.
“The pandemic continues to have a devastating impact on all of our lives, and it highlights the fact that those bearing the heaviest burden are Latino and lower-income Californians,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California.
“Those affected most by the pandemic are also those with the most to gain from getting the financial help that’s available to help 1.2 million Californians get health insurance.”
The survey also found 52% of Californians say the pandemic has impacted their lives significantly — with the Latino population recording higher rates with 58% compared to 49% among whites, 44% among African-Americans, and 49% among Asian-Americans.
Similarly, 62% of Californians say they experienced a job loss or a reduction in income due to the pandemic — compared to the 71% of Latinos who are the most likely to report these disruptions.
According to the survey, an estimated 25 million Californians may have suffered job loss or reduction in income due to the pandemic — residents at the lowest end of the income spectrum were most likely to have suffered financially.
A total of 40% of residents who earned between $25,000 and $35,000 in 2019 say they moved into a lower income bracket — compared to the 27% who earned between $35,000 and $50,000 and just 15% of those who earned more than $50,000.
“These survey data add personal dimensions to the dry mortality data of disproportionate Latino deaths,” said Dr. David Hayes-Bautista from the UCLA School of Medicine and Public Health.
“Through this survey, we can appreciate the concerns of Spanish-speaking farm workers, truck drivers, and construction workers who see their jobs disappear, their paychecks shrink and their access to life-giving medical care fade away as this pandemic ravages the state’s essential workers.”
Health Care Coverage
The pandemic also highlighted the importance of having reliable health care coverage — only 15% of uninsured Californians report they are satisfied with the health care they have access to.
Residents who are insured through Covered California and the individual market report the highest level of satisfaction in the state with 45% compared to 42% for those with employer-sponsored coverage and 29% for those with Medi-Cal.
“The COVID pandemic has brought home the importance of having insurance coverage,” said Lee.
“The fact that there are so many uninsured Californians living in fear underscores the importance of getting the word out that financial help is available to 1.2 million uninsured Californians, and they should sign up today.”
Lee urges uninsured residents to sign up to see if they qualify for financial assistance from the federal government, the state of California, or both during the current open-enrollment period.
A bright note from the survey shows the majority of Californians are taking the necessary steps to protect their family, friends, and community despite the recent spike in COVID-19 cases throughout the state.
The majority of residents say they are wearing masks, frequently washing their hands, and social distancing.
“This data reinforces the fact that some Californians — particularly Latinos and those with lower incomes — are bearing far higher burdens during this pandemic, both in terms of health and financial impact,” said Dr. Erica Pan, California’s acting public health officer.
“As we respond to an unprecedented and swift surge in cases and hospitalizations, combined with colder weather and upcoming holidays, I am encouraged and proud the majority of Californians recognize that public health prevention measures like wearing masks and keeping physical distance are critical to slowing the spread. We know this has been a long and difficult eight months fighting the pandemic together, but we are 40 million strong, and together we can defeat this virus.”
More than 3,000 Californians completed the online survey in both English and Spanish between Oct. 28 and Nov. 11.
Click here for the complete survey results.
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