CAAP COVID-19 STATEMENT
The Effects of COVID-19 on Low-Income People
People living in poverty end up being affected disproportionately.
It is almost always the case that when disasters strike.
A lack of resources limit both these families’ ability to prepare for emergencies and their ability to recover. As the novel coronavirus spreads across the country and more Americans are contracting COVID-19, we can expect that low-income Americans will be hit especially hard.
Ways in which low-income people will be disproportionately impacted:
- Poor Americans are much more likely to be uninsured, and as a result, much less likely to receive medical care. Without regular medical care, they are more likely to have underlying health conditions that may make them more susceptible to the worst effects of COVID-19, resulting in a higher mortality rate. Even without underlying medical conditions, the inability to afford healthcare may keep some from receiving treatment, exacerbating symptoms, and perhaps even prolonging the course of the disease. The problems caused by lack of health coverage are especially a problem for states like Kansas that have not expanded Medicaid.
- Those without health insurance may also be less likely to get tested when they exhibit symptoms, and therefore may not know that they have been infected with the coronavirus. Some could unwittingly be passing on the virus, meaning that a lack of insurance coverage is a health threat for everyone.
- With little or no money to spare, low-income people are less able to stock up in anticipation of quarantines or travel restrictions.
- Since low wage workers are disproportionately employed in industries that are most likely to experience some of the most severe effects of restrictions on travel and measures to encourage social distancing (restaurants and hotels, for example), these individuals are the most likely to experience unemployment resulting from the spread of the virus and measures to control it.
- Necessary measures intended to limit the spread of the virus, such as social distancing, may also harm poor people. If workers are forced to stay away from work temporarily, low-wage jobs are the most likely to involve tasks that cannot be done at home. In fact, these jobs, which often involve caregiving and customer service, are more likely to involve direct human contact than most higher wage jobs. For those low-wage workers who do have jobs that are amenable to working remotely, they still may not able to do so because they are less likely to have access to broadband Internet connections. Since low-wage jobs rarely include paid leave, these workers are faced with the prospect of long periods of lost income whether or not they actually contract the coronavirus.
Visit our Coronavirus Resources page to view resources compiled by CAAP.
State Guidance and History
The document contains answers to questions that were submitted during the stakeholder and legislator webinars held on Tuesday, March 17. DHS combined the Q&A into one document to provide a broader scope of information that may be relevant to all. We will work to update and distribute this document regularly.