Aug. 17 (UPI) — Black and Hispanic Americans are hospitalized for COVID-19 at a rate of up to three times their share of the general population, according to an analysis published Monday by JAMA Internal Medicine.
The analysis shows that, in Ohio, Black Americans accounted for 32% of all people hospitalized with COVID-19 this spring, despite constituting 13% of the state’s population.
Similarly, in Indiana, just over 28% of all hospitalized COVID-19 patients were Black Americans, while just under 10% of the state’s population is Black.
In Virginia, Hispanic Americans made up 36% of all CVID-19 hospitalizations, despite being just 10% of the state’s total population, according to researchers.
The findings, based on analysis of data for 12 states taken from the University of Minnesota COVID-19 Hospitalization Tracking Project, highlight ongoing racial disparities among those who experience serious illness from the new coronavirus, the researchers said.
“We are seeing large disparities in hospitalizations across racial and ethnic groups,” study lead researcher Pinar Karaca-Mandic told UPI.
And these “disparities were across the board” in both urban and rural areas, said Karaca-Mandic, a professor of healthcare risk management at the University of Minnesota.
Researchers analyzed hospitalization data from April 30 through June 24 in each state, evaluating it against population figures from the 2010 U.S. census.
The 12 states in the analysis were Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia and Washington.
“At the time we did the analysis, these were the only states across the country that were reporting hospitalization data based on race,” Karaca-Mandic said.
Since the analysis was completed, New Jersey and Virginia have start to report this data.
“We need to have more complete data so we can understand the true nature of these racial disparities,” Karaca-Mandic said, adding that there is a “lack of standardization in the data on race — even among those reporting it.
White Americans accounted for the bulk of COVID-19 hospitalizations in all 12 states, she and her colleagues found. In all cases, however, White Americans were hospitalized at a lower rate compared to their share of the general population, according to the researchers.
In Utah, for example, White Americans made up 43% of the hospitalized patients with COVID-19, despite being 78% of the state’s population.
In addition to Ohio and Indiana, Minnesota and Kansas were among states that saw the highest disparities, the researchers found.
In Minnesota, 25% of the patients hospitalized with the virus were Black Americans, who make up just under 7% of the state’s population, according to the researchers.
In Kansas, these figures were 22% and 6%, respectively, they said.
Hospitalization rates for Hispanic Americans were above 33% in Rhode Island and Utah, the researchers said. In both states, Hispanic Americans make up less than 16% of the population, they said.
The racial disparities in COVID-19 hospitalizations can be attributed to a number of factors, Karaca-Mandic said.
She said this includes that Black and Hispanic Americans are more likely to be “essential workers” — meaning they continued to report to their jobs during lockdown and therefore were at greater risk for exposure to the virus.
These communities were also less likely to have access to quality healthcare prior to the pandemic and may be in poorer overall health as a result, she said.