The Disproportionate Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic

More than two years into the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the United States (U.S.) has recorded over 83.6 million cases, 4.7 million hospital admissions, and over 1 million lives lost (CDC, 2022). Various studies have shown a significantly higher rate of COVID-19 hospitalization and death among racial minorities in the U.S. [1-3]. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), racial minority communities (Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Natives) in the U.S. are 2-3 times more likely to be hospitalized and die due to COVID-19 complications compared to White Americans.

These outcomes are the result of structural racism limiting access to healthcare, and underlying health conditions (which include diabetes, asthma, hypertension, asthma, obesity, etc.) among racial minority communities in the U.S., which are significantly associated with COVID-19 related hospitalization [4-6] and death [6-8]. Additionally, societal inequities such as limited access to COVID-19 testing [9], living in more crowded conditions and high density neighborhoods [10], being employed in public- facing occupations (e.g. restaurants, grocery stores, and transportation services) that prevent adequate physical distancing [10], amongst other factors, intensify observed racial disparity in COVID-19 health outcomes in the U.S. Additionally, there is a disparity in COVID-19 vaccination rates, with 87% of Asian, 67% of Hispanic, and 64% of White people having received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, higher than the rate for Black people (59%) as of July 11, 2022 . (KFF, 2022)

Risk For COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and death by race / ethnicity