Emerging evidence reveals the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the US Latinx immigrant community. Concern for the consequences of COVID-19 is especially high among the Latinx population in Miami-Dade County, the most populous county in Florida. As of April 24, 35% of all reported COVID-19 cases in the state of Florida (10,926), 27% of deaths (287), and 30% of persons hospitalized (12,465) were residents of Miami-Dade County. Given that Miami-Dade is at epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state of Florida and the majority of its 2.8 million residents are Latinx immigrants, there is an urgent need to explore the impact of COVID-19 in this population. Latinx immigrants face increased challenges related to employment, financial strain, access to care, limited social support systems, language barriers, and fears related to immigration status that create barriers to adherence of COVID-19 containment and mitigation efforts, and could exacerbate downstream health effects such as mental health and substance use problems. The relative effect on recent Latinx immigrants, many of whom have experienced forced migration and are struggling to adapt to a new host country, may be particularly devastating. The proposed study addresses this urgent need by leveraging an ongoing NIAAA-sponsored longitudinal study set (currently in the second wave of data collection). Specifically, the study will administer a supplemental COVID-19 protocol to our already engaged sample of recent Latinx immigrants. This data will be merged with pre- and post-pandemic data currently being collected via the parent study. The overarching aim of the proposed study is to (1) examine adherence and attitudes to COVID-19 containment and mitigation efforts and (2) how sociocultural factors coupled with COVID-19 related stress impacts changes in alcohol and other drug use and adverse mental health outcomes in this population. This research would immediately leverage the parent study cohort, infrastructure, and existing protocol to rapidly assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in this vulnerable Latinx subgroup. This knowledge will be critical to informing early response procedures with the power to mitigate deleterious COVID-19 adherence and mitigation efforts, pandemic stressors, and subsequent downstream health consequences such as alcohol and other drug use and adverse mental health outcomes in this population. Additionally, knowledge gained from the proposed study can be utilized to examine the impacts of COVID-19 on the original study outcomes (i.e., impaired driving, transportation). Findings from this investigation can prove to be invaluable in understanding the behavioral changes triggered by COVID-19 among recent Latinx immigrants, and informing effective policies and culturally relevant outreach strategies that can be applied in the face of future pandemic recurrences.
The proposed research matches the NIH?s long-term commitment to addressing health disparities, as it will provide detailed epidemiologic information about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of and alcohol and substance use among Latino immigrants to Miami-Dade County, Florida. Further, the application will also inform about the adherence and attitudes of the target population to COVID-19 containment and mitigation efforts?information that would be critical to the fight of a future and/or recurrent pandemic.