Hispanics more likely than Americans overall to see coronavirus as a major threat to health and finances
Senior citizens shop at Northgate Gonzalez Market, a Hispanic specialty supermarket in Los Angeles, on March 19. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Hispanics are more concerned than Americans overall about the threat the COVID-19 outbreak poses to the health of the U.S. population, their own financial situation and the day-to-day life of their local community, according to a new survey fielded as part of Pew Research Center’s Election News Pathways project.

The spread of the coronavirus has the potential to hit many of the nation’s nearly 60 million Latinos particularly hard. Although the Latino unemployment rate dipped at the end of 2019 to a near record low, many Latinos work in the leisure, hospitality and other service industries – and they are less likely to have health insurance. Latinos were hit especially hard by the Great Recession more than a decade ago, and some workers have only recently seen their median personal incomes bounce back and exceed pre-recession levels.

Large majorities of Hispanics and the general public (both 70%) say the new coronavirus poses a major threat to the U.S. economy. But on other questions, Latinos’ concerns are more pronounced than those of the wider public. About two-thirds (65%) of Hispanic adults say the coronavirus outbreak is a major threat to the health of the U.S. population as a whole, compared with about half (47%) of the general public. More Hispanics than Americans overall say the outbreak is a major threat to their personal financial situation (50% vs. 34%), day-to-day life in their local community (49% vs. 36%) and their personal health (39% vs. 27%).

How we did this

The survey was conducted March 10 to 16, after the United States recorded its first coronavirus death but before Congress started debating a roughly $2 trillion economic stimulus that could send checks of around $1,200 to taxpayers to soften the economic blow.

The survey also found that Hispanics might be financially more vulnerable than other Americans if the coronavirus forces them to stop working. Around two-thirds of employed Hispanic adults (66%) say they would not get paid if the coronavirus caused them to miss work for two weeks or more, including about half (47%) who say it would be difficult to meet expenses during this time. By comparison, 54% of employed U.S. adults overall say they wouldn’t get paid if they missed two weeks of work or more, including 33% who say it would be difficult to meet expenses.

Differences between Hispanics and U.S. adults on how they view the COVID-19 outbreak are wider among Republicans than Democrats.

Around six-in-ten Hispanic Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (62%) say the coronavirus outbreak is a major threat to the health of the U.S. population, compared with 33% of Republicans and GOP leaners overall. Significant differences also exist between Hispanic Republicans and Republicans overall on whether they see the outbreak as a major threat to their personal financial situation (42% vs. 29%) and day-to-day life in their community (43% vs. 26%).

Hispanic Democrats and Democrats overall hold more similar views on the threat posed by COVID-19. Even so, more Hispanic Democrats than Democrats overall say the coronavirus poses a major threat to the health of the U.S. population, their personal financial situation, day-to-day life in their community and their personal health. The gap is widest on personal finances: 54% of Hispanic Democrats say the outbreak poses a major threat on this front, compared with 38% of Democrats overall.

Note: Here are the questions used for this report, along with responses, and its methodology.