Minorities Hit Hardest by COVID-19, Study Confirms

sick patient in hospital bed
sick patient in hospital bed

MONDAY, Aug. 17, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- A new report adds to data suggesting that the coronavirus pandemic is even tougher on U.S. minorities than it is on whites.

The research, from the University of Minnesota, shows that Black and Hispanic Americans, as well as American Indians and Alaskan Natives, are much more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than their white peers.

For the study, the research team tracked data on nearly 49,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations between April 30 and June 24, 2020. The data came from 12 states: Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia, and Washington.

In all 12 states, COVID-19 hospitalizations were higher among Black people than among white people. For example, black Ohioans made up 32% of hospitalizations but just 13% of the state's population. Similarly, Black Minnesotans comprised about 25% of hospitalizations, but are only 6.8% of the state population, while in Indiana, Black people made up just over 28% of hospitalizations but represent just under 10% of the state population.

In 10 of 11 states reporting such data, Hispanics were also hospitalized at higher rates than whites. This was true in Virginia (36% of hospitalizations versus about 10% of state population), Utah (35% of hospitalizations, 14% of population) and Rhode Island (33% of hospitalizations, 16% of population).

The findings were different for Asian communities. In six of the 10 states that reported data for this group, the rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations was lower than their population representation. For example, people in Massachusetts who identify as Asian account for 7% of the population but only 4% of the COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The study was published online Aug. 17 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Study lead author Pinar Karaca-Mandic is professor and academic director of the Medical Industry Leadership Institute at the university. She said that before the numbers can be understood and changes be made, policymakers have to better understand "the unique clinical, financial and social impacts of COVID-19 on racial and ethnic populations that are often systematically marginalized in our society."

There's also a dearth of information of how race might play a role in COVID-19 prevalence and outcomes, the study authors pointed out in a university news release.

Study co-author Dr. Archelle Georgiou, chief health officer at Starkey Hearing Technologies, said, "The fact that only 12 of 50 states report this type of information clearly shows there is more to learn about why non-whites are being hospitalized at such higher rates than whites."

The study findings were consistent with previous analyses by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others, but this study didn't adjust for age, sex, other health conditions and socioeconomic factors within each race and ethnic group likely related to COVID-19 hospitalizations, the authors noted.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on minorities and COVID-19.

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