“I thought I was going to die there:” Socio-political contexts and the plight of undocumented Latinx in the COVID-19 pandemic

Certain U.S. population groups have suffered higher rates of infection and mortality than whites during the COVID-19 pandemic, including Latinx. Public health officials blamed disparities on overcrowded housing and work in essential industries prior to the vaccine’s availability. This study (n=34) focuses on the intersectionality of social locations for undocumented Latinx immigrants living in a relatively affluent suburb and working in the construction and service sectors. Their narratives revealed how the pandemic created financial precarity through prolonged periods of unemployment and food insecurity. Workers described worry over unpaid bills, and potentially catastrophic episodes in which they treated severe COVID-19 with home remedies. We argue that long spells of unemployment, food insecurity and lack of access to healthcare emerged because of social-political contexts including low-wage labor and lack of a safety net.

SSM-Qualitative Research in Health. Vol. 3. 100242. Elsevier.
Carol W. Cleaveland
Myeong Lee
Constance A. Gewa