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Blacks and Hispanics Test Positive for COVID Over Three Times More Than Whites

Analysis  |  By Melanie Blackman  
   November 03, 2020

A new study found racial differences in Southeast Wisconsin COVID-19 cases, where Blacks and Hispanics are over two times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID than Whites.

Blacks and Hispanics were over three times more likely to test positive for COVID-19 than Whites, and among those who tested positive were "two times more likely to be hospitalized relative to Whites" in Southeast Wisconsin, according to a new Health Affairs study. Hispanics were found to be twice as likely to die from COVID than Whites.

Nationally, Blacks and Hispanics are over 4.6 times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID than Whites, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As part of the Health Affairs study, lead author Leonard Egede and researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin "examined racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 outcomes in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a highly segregated "minority-majority city."

The study looked at data from over 31,000 adults tested for COVID in Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin between March 1 and July 10 of this year. "Given the long-standing history of structural racism, residential segregation, and social risk in the US and their role as contributors to poor health, we propose and discuss the part these issues play as explanatory factors for our findings," the study abstract said.

For those who tested positive for COVID:

  • 4.5% were non-Hispanic Whites
  • 14.9% were non-Hispanic Blacks
  • 14.8% were Hispanics

The study concludes that "… efforts to mitigate these disparities should incorporate new frameworks and policies that address structural racism and evaluation of mechanisms and pathways that are not currently available in analyses that use data from electronic medical records."

Melanie Blackman is the strategy editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.

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