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                                                                                         Updated July 10,2020

Latin America and the Caribbean: Impact of COVID-19


The Coronavirus Disease2019 (COVJD-19) pandemic is
having widespread economic, social, and political effects
on Latin America and the Caribbean, a region with strong
congressional interest because of deep U.S. linkages.

As of July 10, 2020, the region hadalmost 3.2 million
confirmed cases andover 138,000 deaths, with deaths
surging in several countries. Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Chile,
and Ecuadorhave the highestnumbers of deaths in the
region, and Brazil has the highest number worldwide after
the United States. The rankings change in terms of per
capita deaths-Chile has the highest recorded deaths per
capita, closely followed by Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, and
Mexico (see Table 1). Severalregionalleaders have
contracted the virus, including the presidents of Honduras
in June and the Brazilian and Bolivian presidents in July. A
recent University of Washington model for COVID-19 in
Latin America and the Caribbean forecasts that deaths
could reach 438,000 by October 1, 2020, with several
countries facing explosive trajectories.

Experts are concerned that severalcountries, such as Brazil,
Haiti, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, are significantly
undercounting their death tolls. Many observers have
expressed special concern for Venezuela, where the health
care systemwas collapsing prior to the pandemic. Experts
have criticized the leaders of Brazil, Mexico, and Nicaragua
for playing downthe virus threat andnot taking adequate
actions to stemits spread.

On May 19, 2020, Director of the Pan American Health
Organization (PAHO) Dr. Carissa Etienne maintained that
the virus is surgingacross ourregion and expres sed
concern about the poor and other vulnerable groups at
greatest risk. Dr. Etienne conveyed particular concern for
cities, towns, and remote communities in the Amazon
Basin, including indigenous communities, as well as
women (who make up 70% of the health workforce), people
of African descent, migrants in temporary settlements, and
prisoners in crowdedjails with poor sanitation. On June 9,
PAHO issued guidance onmeasures to reduceCOVID-19
transmission among indigenous populations, Afro-
descendants, and other ethnic groups.
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Before the pandemic, the International Monetary Fund
(IMF) projected 1.6% economic growth for the region in
2020 but forecast a recession several countries. On June 24,
2020, the IMF revised its regional forecast to a contraction
of 9.4%, with almost every country in recession. Economic
recovery may be a protracted processin countries thatrely
heavily on global trade and investment, which thepandenic
is significantly affecting. Oil-producing countries in the
region, especially Venezuela and Ecuador-and, to ales ser


extent, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico-are being
negatively affected by the historic drop in the price ofoil
that began in late Febru ary 2020. Caribbean nations that
depend on tourismface deep economic recessions, with
projected annual GDP declines between 5%-10%.

The decline in economic growth in 2020 is expected to
exacerbate income inequality and poverty throughout the
region. Latin America was already the mostunequ alregion
in the world in terms of income inequality, according to the
U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the
Caribbean (ECLAC). ECLAC projects that in 2020,
inequality will rise in all countries, with the worst results in
the region's largest economies-Brazil, Mexico, and
Argentina. According to a July 2020 U.N. report, poverty is
expected to increase from30.3% of the region's population
in 2019 to 37.2% in 2020, an increase of 45 million people
(to 230 million people total).

Table I. COVID-l 9 Deaths and Mortality Rates in
Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)
(countries with more than 500 deaths, as of July 10, 2020)

                                           Regional
   Country       Deaths     Deaths per      Rank
                              100,000    (deaths per
                                           100,000)

 Brazil             69,184        33.03            3
 Mexico             33,526        26.57            5
 Peru               1 1,314       35.37            2
 Chile               6,682        35.68            1
 Ecuador             4,900        28.68            4
 Colombia            4,791         9.65            8
 Argentina           1,720         3.87           12
 Bolivia             1,638        14.43            7
 Dom. Rep.            842          7.92            9
 Guatemala           1,092         6.33           II
 Panama               839         20.09            6
 Honduras             704          7.34           10
 Total LAC         138,001          -             -
 United States     133,290        40.74
 Source: Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Coronavirus
 Resource Center, Mortality Analyses, accessed July 10,2020,3:00
 a.m. EDT, updated daily at https:/coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/mortality.


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