Poll measures virus crisis impacts on Latinx residents

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (SHNS) – Thirty-five percent of Latinx Massachusetts residents have gotten food from a food bank since the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to a new poll, and 12 percent reported someone in the household had experienced symptoms of the respiratory disease.

In the MassINC Polling Group’s survey of 622 Latinx residents, conducted last month in English and Spanish, 51 percent of respondents said they had felt more sad, anxious or depressed than normal over the past few months.

Such mental health challenges were reported in higher numbers by respondents who were also unemployed (63 percent) or who had COVID-19 symptoms in their household (70 percent), the poll showed.

The poll’s findings, MassINC Polling Group President Steve Koczela said, illustrate the ways the pandemic has been a “compound crisis,” with economic, public health and education elements.

“And these things are piling up on the same groups of people. It’s not like one group of people is dealing with one issue, one group is dealing with another issue,” he said during an online discussion of the poll. “People who are unemployed are more likely to have had COVID in the household. People who don’t have health insurance are more likely to have had COVID in the household.”

Seventeen percent of respondents said they’d missed some of their monthly rent or mortgage payments since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and 36 percent said they’d lost a “significant amount” of their savings or retirement fund. Of those who were employed, 34 percent said they’d lost some portion of their paycheck, and half said they had worked remotely.

Fifty-five percent of employed respondents said they were currently working in a job deemed “essential,” in fields such as health care or grocery sales.

Koczela said the data showed essential workers were more likely to say someone in their household had COVID-19 symptoms than other workers — 14 percent of essential workers reported symptoms in their home, compared to 7 percent of non-essential workers.

Respondents to the poll identified education as a top issue for state lawmakers to address over the next year. At least three-quarters flagged making child care and health care more affordable as top-priority issues, along with protecting immigrant rights and women’s rights.

The poll, conducted via telephone interview and online surveys, also asked some non-COVID questions.

It found support for the Black Lives Matter movement among the state’s Latinx community, with 59 percent of respondents indicating strong support and 21 percent saying they somewhat support the movement, compared to 4 percent each who strongly or somewhat oppose.

More than three times as many respondents said they’d vote for Joe Biden (59 percent) as Donald Trump (16 percent) if the presidential election were held today. Fifty-nine percent were registered to vote in Massachusetts.

Sixty-two percent said they had completed the 2020 Census, with another 24 percent intending to complete it. Eight percent did not plan to respond to the Census, the poll found.

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