Racial and Ethnic Disparities in COVID-19 Deaths

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in COVID-19 Deaths

Black and brown Americans are more likely to get sick and die from the novel coronavirus. New research from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit health reporting organization, showed that Black and Hispanic Americans are more than twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as white Americans. Differences in occupations, tests, hospital stays, and treatment outcomes all contribute to this dismal statistic.

The research team used electronic health records for over 300,000 people to examine the racial and ethnic breakdown for deaths, hospitalizations, infections, and COVID-19 testing.

Colored people work from home less often

Although people of color work disproportionately in high-risk jobs, they do not have significantly higher test rates. Using statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said: “People from certain racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented in key work environments such as health facilities, farms, factories, grocery stores and public transportation. "The study's authors argue that" [D], despite the increased risk of exposure to the virus, colored patients did not have significantly higher test rates compared to white patients ".

People who need to be physically present at work do not have the options others have. This in turn increases the risk of COVID-19 exposure. About a fifth of black workers could work from home, according to 2017/18 data, and a little less than a sixth of Hispanic or Latin American workers could work from home. By comparison, nearly a third of white workers who could work from home.

Because of this higher exposure, colored people should be tested at significantly higher rates than whites. People who are more likely to be exposed need more tests to cover all possible cases.

Once infected, colored people are worse than white counterparts

After being infected with COVID-19, the likelihood of black and Spanish patients being hospitalized was twice the average and almost four times the likelihood of white patients. They were twice as likely to die.

When the researchers compared people based on age, health, and socio-economic status, they found:

  • Black Americans were 33% more likely to be hospitalized and almost 20% more likely to die
  • Hispanic Americans were 53% more likely to be hospitalized and 30% more likely to die
  • Asian Americans were 57% more likely to be hospitalized and 49% more likely to die

"These results show that people of color at any stage carry a disproportionate burden of negative health outcomes associated with the COVID-19 pandemic – infection rates, access to testing, and severity of illness and death," the authors wrote.

They call for "efforts to eliminate disparities" that lie "inside and outside the health system".


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