1 1 (October 07, 2020)

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                                                                                       Updated October 7,2020

Latin America and the Caribbean: Impact of COVlD-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 October 6,2020, the region had almost 9.7 million
confirmed cases (27% of cases worldwide) and over
357,000 deaths (34% of deaths worldwide). Brazil, Mexico,
Peru, Colombia, and Argentina have the highestnumbers of
deaths in the region, and Brazilhas the highest deathtoll
worldwide after the United States. The rankings change in
terms of per capita deaths-Peru has the highestrecorded
deaths per capita in the region, followed by Bolivia, Brazil,
Chile, and Ecuador (see Table 1). Severalcountries have
recently reported a gradual decline in cases and deaths from
peaks in August 2020. Nevertheless, a University of
Washington COVID-19 projection model forecasts that
deaths in Latin America and the Caribbean could reach
more than 500,000 by January 1, 2021.
Experts and observers have expressed concern that some
countries, such as 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. (See CRS In Focus IF11029, The Venezuela
Regio nalHumanitarian Crisis and COVID-1 9).
When thepandemic first began to surge in the region in
May 2020, the Director of the Pan American Health
Organization (PAHO), Dr. Caris s a Etienne, expressed
concern about the poor and other vulnerable groups at
greatest risk, including particular concern for those living in
cities, towns, and remote cormmnities in the Amazon Basin
(including indigenous conmrunities), people ofAfrican
descent, migrants in temporary settlements, and prisoners in
crowded jails. In July 2020, PAHO is sued an alert urging
countries to intensify effort to prevent further spread of the
virus among indigenous conmrunities in the Americas. In
September 2020, PAHO warned about increasing cases in
Central America and the Caribbean.


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 ales ser 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 touris mface deep


economic recessions, with a projected gross domestic
product decline of 10.3% in 2020, according to theIMF.
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 1,000 deaths, as of Oct. 6, 2020)

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

 Brazil            146,675        70.02       3
 Mexico             81,877        64.88       6
 Peru               32,742       102.35       I
 Colombia           26,844        54.07       8
 Argentina          21,468        48.25       9
 Chile              13,037        69.61       4
 Ecuador            1 1,681       68.37       5
 Bolivia             8,129         71.6       2
 Guatemala           3,302        19.14       14
 Honduras            2,433        25.38       10
 Panama              2,430        58.18       7
 Dom. Rep.           2,144        20.17       12
 Total LAC         357,304          -        -
 United States     210,181        64.24
 Source: Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Coronavirus
 Resource Center, Mortality Analyses, October 6,2020, updated
 daily, at https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/mortality.
 Note: The Bahamas had 24.29 deaths per 100,000, I I  highest in the
 region, and Costa Rica had 19.74 deaths per 100,000, I 3h highest in
the region.

The World Bankhad predicted in April 2020 that
remittances fromabroadto Latin America and the


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