The maps and graph on this page will be regularly updated to reflect the most current data available on the spread of COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean. The two maps show confirmed cases and deaths on a per capita basis, illustrating the virus’s prevalence in each country, adjusted for population. The line graph uses a log scale in order to compare the growth of confirmed cases over time across countries with very different population sizes within a compact chart. The tracker utilizes official data, and it should be noted that testing rates vary significantly between countries, undermining the accuracy of the numbers.
As of March 26, every one of the 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean had confirmed cases of COVID-19. The global pandemic, which has already led to tens of thousands of deaths mostly in the developed world, is likely to have an even larger impact in developing countries. The pandemic will put pressure on under-resourced public health systems, as has occurred in even the high-income countries. The COVID-19 crisis is also bringing to the fore many of the structural social problems of the region, as it hits the poorest hardest. Latin America and the Caribbean thus face unique challenges in the weeks and months ahead to safeguard their societies and populations.
Governments throughout Latin America and the Caribbean have started to adopt myriad policies in response, focused on both public health as well as the economy. These measures, however, have been disparate, uneven and heterogenous, with some countries implementing stringent measures of social distancing, while others have been slower to enforce compulsory stay-at-home directives for fear of hurting the economy. In some national contexts, these conflicting visions of what is to be done between different political actors and levels of government have created political crises on top of the public health and economic ones.
At the international level, there has been, as yet, no regional approach to the pandemic. States have mostly resorted to nationalist rather than integrated approaches to this transnational phenomenon.
There is no doubt that social and economic consequences for the region will be extremely challenging in the months to come. There has already been more capital outflow from the region than during the 2009 global financial crisis and recession. The prices of Latin American exports, commodities in particular, have collapsed, further stirring what is fast becoming both an external shock and fiscal crisis. In the Caribbean, the blow to the tourism industry is, similarly, devastating.
The way the region and multilateral institutions respond will thus have profound implications for the immediate health needs of Latin American and Caribbean countries, for the social healing and economic recovery once the immediate crisis abates, and for building a greater resilience to pandemics and large scale health threats for the future.
With these concerns in mind, the COVID-19 data tracker will be continually updated as the pandemic spreads throughout the region and CEPR experts will be providing regular analysis on The Americas Blog.