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                                                                                         Updated June 26,2020
Latin America and the Caribbean: Impact of COVID-19


The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is
having widespread economic, social, and politicaleffects
on Latin America and the Caribbean, aregion with strong
congressionalinterest becauseof deep U.S. linkages.

As of June 26,2020, the region had almost 2.3 million
confirmed cases andover 105,000 deaths, with some
countries experiencing a surgein deaths. Brazil, Mexico,
Peru, Chile, and Ecuadorhave the highest numbers of
deaths in the region, and Brazilnowhas the highest number
of deaths worldwide afterthe United States. Therankings
change in terms of per capita deaths-Peru has the highest
number ofrecorded deaths per capita, closely followed by
Brazil, Chile, and Ecuador (see Table 1).

Experts and observers are concerned that several countries,
such as Brazil, Haiti, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Venezuela,
are significantly undercounting their death tolls. Many
observers have expressed particular concern for Venezuela,
where the country's health care systemwas collapsing prior
to the pandemic. Experts have criticized the presidents of
Brazil, Mexico, and Nicaragua for playing down the virus
threat and not taking adequate actions to stemits spread.

On May  19, 2020, Director of the Pan American Health
Organization (PAHO) Dr. Caris sa Etienne maintained that
the virus is surgingacrossourregionandexpressed
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 amongindigenous populations, Afro-
descendants, and other ethnic groups.


Before the pandemic, the InternationalMonetary Fund
(IMF) projected 1.6% economic growth for the region in
2020 but forecast a recession several countries. On June 24,
2020, the IMFrevised its regional forecast to a contraction
of 9.4%, with almost every country in recession. Economic
recovery may be a protracted process in countries that rely
heavily on global trade and investment, which thepandenic
is significantly affecting. Oil-producing countries in the
region, especially Venezuela and Ecuador-and, to alesser
extent, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico-are being
negatively affected by the historic drop in the price of oil
that began in late February 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 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. The level ofpoverty is expected to increase frm
30.3% of the region's population in 2019 to 34.3% in 2020
(almost 215 million people), with almost 29 million people
moving into poverty during the year.

Table  I. COVID-19  Deaths and Mortality Rates in
Latin America  and the Caribbean (LAC)
(countries with more than 500 deaths, as of June 26, 2020)

                                           Regional
                            Deaths per      Rank
                              100,000    (deaths per
                                           100,000)
 Brazil             54,971        26.24       2
 Mexico             25,060        19.86       5
 Peru                8,761        27.39       I
 Chile               4,903        26.18       3
 Ecuador             4,343        25.42       4
 Colombia            2,611         5.26       9
 Argentina           1,150         2.58       13
 Bolivia              91 3         8.04       7
 Dom.  Rep.           698          6.57       8
 Guatemala            623          3.61      II
 Panama               564         13.50       6
 Total LAC         105,555
 United States     124,410        38.03      -
 Source: Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Coronavirus
 Resource Center, Mortality Analyses, accessed June 26,2020, 3:00
 a.m. EDT, updated daily at https//coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/mortality.
 Notes: Other countries with comparatively high death rates in the
 region include Honduras, ranked 10*i (4.44deaths per 100,000), and
Antigua and Barbuda, ranked I 2*(3.1 2 deaths per 100,000).

Another economic challenge for the region is that incoming
remittances fromabro ad (the majority fromthe United
States) are expectedto drop significantly as aresult of
COVID-19.  For severalcountries-El Salvador,
Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, and Nicaragua-
remittances play a significant role in their economies. The


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