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Study finds racial and ethnic disparities in Covid-19 hospitalizations

Black, Latino and American Indian and Alaskan Native people were disproportionately hospitalized for Covid-19, according to a new analysis of 12 states’ populations published Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

“This analysis identified considerable disparities in the prevalence of Covid-19 across racial/ethnic subgroups of the population in 12 states,” said the researchers from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.

In a nearly two-month period from late April to late June, there were 48,788 cumulative Covid-19 hospitalizations in the states that reported race and hospitalization data — Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia and Washington.

“The share of the hospitalizations of White patients was substantially smaller vs. their share of the population in all 12 states,” the authors found.

The authors found that the opposite was true for Black patients — their percentage of hospitalizations exceeded the percentage of their representative proportion of state population. This was highest in Ohio, where Black patients accounted for 31.8% of hospitalizations and are 13% of the population. Minnesota, Indiana and Kansas also had particularly high rates of hospitalizations for Black people compared to the population.

Of the 11 states that reported the number of Covid-19 hospitalizations for Hispanic patients, 10 had hospitalizations for Hispanic patients that were higher than their representative proportion of the state population. This was most pronounced in Virginia, where Hispanic people accounted for 36.2% of hospitalizations, compared with 9.6% of the population. Utah and Rhode Island also had high levels of hospitalizations compared with percentage of the population.

Only eight states reported hospitalization data for American Indian and Alaskan Native populations, but in some of these states there was a substantial disparity. For example, in Arizona, this group account for 4% of the state’s population but 15.7% of the hospitalizations. In Utah, this group accounted for 0.9% of the state’s population, but 5.0% of hospitalizations.

Asian populations were the only group for which the pattern was largely reversed. In 6 out of 10 states that reported data, hospitalization proportions were lower than population representation. For example, in Massachusetts, the Asian population made up 7% of the population but only 4% of hospitalizations.

These findings are consistent with data from previous research, according to the authors, and highlight the need for increased data reporting and consistency within and across states. The study has some limitations, including that it did not adjust for age, sex, underlying conditions and socioeconomic factors within racial/ethnic groups that are likely related to Covid-19 hospitalization.

Article Topic Follows: Health

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