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                                                                                       Updated August 14,2020

Latin America and the Caribbean: Impact of COVID-19


The Coronavirus Disease2019 (COVID-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 August 14,2020, the region had almost 5.9 million
confirmed cases (28% of cases worldwide) and almost
231,000 deaths (almost 31% of deaths worldwide), with the
virus continuing to spread at high levels in several
countries. Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Colombia, and Chile have
the highest numbers of deaths in the region, and Brazil and
Mexico have highest death tolls worldwide after the United
States. The rankings change in terms of per capita deaths-
Peru has the highest recorded deaths per capitain the
region, followed by Chile, Brazil, Mexico, and Panama (see
Table 1). A June 2020 University of Washington nrdelfor
COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean forecasts
that deaths could reach 438,000 by October 1, 2020.

Many observers have expressed specialconcern for
Venezuela, where the health care systemwas collapsing
prior to the pandemic. Experts have criticized the leaders of
Brazil, Mexico, and Nicaragua for playing down the virus
threat and not taking adequate actions to stemits spread.

The Director of the Pan American Health Organization
(PAHO), Dr. Caris s a Etienne, maintained on May 19 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 conmunities, as well as
women (who make up 70% of the health workforce), people
of African descent, migrants in temporary settlements, and
prisoners in crowdedjails. In June 2020, PAHO is sued
guidance on measures to reduce COVJD-19 transmission
among indigenous populations, Afro -descendants, and other
ethnic groups, and in July, PAHO is sued an alert urging
countries to intensify effort to prevent further spread of the
virus among indigenous conmrunities in the Americas.


Before the pandemic, the International Monetary Fund
(IMF) projected 1.6% economic growth for the region in
2020 but forecast a recession for several countries. On June
24, 2020, the IMFrevised its regional forecast to a
contractionof9.4%, with almost every country in
recession. Economic recovery may be a protracted process
in countries that rely heavily on global trade and
investment, which the pandemic is significantly affecting.
Oil-producing countries in the region, especially Venezuela
and Ecuador-and, to a lesser extent, Brazil, Colombia, and
Mexico-are being negatively affected by the historic drop
in the price ofoil that began in late February 2020.


Caribbean nations that depend on tourisimface 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 mostunequalregion
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 August 14, 2020)

                                           Regional
   Country       Deaths     Deaths per      Rank
                              100,000    (deaths per
                                           100,000)
 Brazil            105,463        50.35            3
 Mexico             55,293        43.82            4
 Peru               21,713        67.88            1
 Colombia           14,145        28.49            8
 Chile              10,299        54.99            2
 Ecuador             6,010        35.18            6
 Argentina           5,362        12.05           12
 Bolivia             3,884        34.21            7
 Guatemala           2,296        13.31 10
 Panama              1,722        41.23            5
 Honduras            1,542        16.08            9
 Dom. Rep.           1,393        13.11           II
 El Salvador          584          9.10           13
 Total LAC         230,911          -             -
 United States     167,110        51.08
 Source: Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Coronavirus
 Resource Center, Mortality Analyses, August 14,2020,3:00 a.m.
 EDT, updated daily at https:/coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/mortality.

 Another economic challenge for the region is that incoming
remittances fromabro ad (the majority fromthe United


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