Latest Numbers Drive Home Health Disparities

Days after declaring racism a “serious public health threat,” the CDC released a pair of studies quantifying COVID-19’s disproportionate toll on America’s communities of color, NPR reports.
 
“These disparities were not caused by the pandemic, but they were certainly exacerbated by [it],” CDC director Rochelle Walensky told a White House briefing Monday, responding to the findings. The data underscore the need to prioritize health equity, she said.

The Findings:

 

  • In all 4 census regions of the US, Hispanics and Latinos made up the highest proportion of hospitalized patients with COVID-19, according to one studybased on administrative discharge data from March–December 2020.

  • Another study, looking at COVID-related ER visits in 13 states from October–December 2020, found: Hispanic and American Indian or Alaska Native people were 1.7X more likely and Black individuals were 1.4X  more likely to seek care than white people.

Driving Disparities:

A slew of variables that disproportionately put communities of color at greater risk of exposure and severe disease, including access to health care, occupation and job conditions, housing instability, and transportation challenges. 
 
The vaccine rollout presents a key opportunity to even the playing field–-but coverage is lopsided.

  • Black Americans make up ~12% of the US population, and just 8.4% of those who’ve received at least one vaccine dose.

  • Hispanics and Latinos make up 18% of the US population, and 10.7% of those who’ve been vaccinated.
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