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Virginia Dept. of Health Report Finds Significant Racial, Ethnic Disparities in COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations, Deaths, Vaccinations

"Hispanics are infected, hospitalized and dying faster than every group and at more than double the rate of whites."

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Thanks to Richmond Times-Dispatch reporter Sabrina Moreno for highlighting this important new report by the Virginia Department of Health, which came out on March 3. As Moreno summarized:

  • “Virginia has released racial and ethnic disparities adjusted by age and population. Results show Hispanics are infected, hospitalized and dying faster than every group and at more than double the rate of whites. Among 35-44 year olds, Hispanic death rates are 11x higher.”
  • For the 85+ age range, Hispanic and white death rates are similar while 1.1 times higher for Black residents. Whites have almost twice the number of vaccinations when adjusting for pop.”
  • “Vaccine eligibility prioritizes residents 65 and up. In Richmond and Henrico, only 5% are in that age group”

Other highlights from the report include the following (bolding added for emphasis):

  • Life expectancy in the United States is projected to be reduced at least 3 times more for Hispanic and Black populations than for White populations as a result of COVID-19, wiping out ten years of progress in bridging the life expectancy gap between White and Black Americans.”
  • COVID-19 case rates in Virginia are substantially higher for Hispanic and Black populations than for other racial/ethnic groups. When compared to the White case rate, the Black case rate is 1.3 times higher and the Hispanic rate is 2.1 times higher. The Asian and Pacific Islander population  has the lowest case rate at 0.7 times that of the White population.”
  • COVID-19 hospitalization rates are also higher for the Hispanic and Black populations than for other racial and ethnic groups. When compared to the White COVID-19 hospitalization rate, the Black rate is 2.0 times higher and the Hispanic rate is 2.6 times higher. American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIAN) have the lowest hospitalization rate, at 0.6 times that of the White population, although racial misclassification is common for health outcomes of American Indians, which can lead to falsely lower rates.”
  • In Virginia, Hispanic and Black age-specific death rates are much higher than White age-specific death rates. The age group with the largest disparity was 35-44 year olds, with the Hispanic death rate 10.9 times higher and the Black rate 6.3 times higher than the White death rate. After this age group the size of the disparity steadily decreases. Among persons 85 years and older, the Hispanic rate is similar to the White rate, and the Black rate is 1.1 times higher than the White rate. “
  • “Another approach is to use age-adjusted rates. When compared to the White rate through February 22, 2021, the Hispanic age-adjusted COVID-19 death rate was 2.1 times higher; the Black rate was 1.8 times higher; the Asian rate was 0.9 times that of the White rate, and the American Indian/Alaska Native rate was 0.8 times that of the White rate. The disparities in death rates were worse earlier in the pandemic and decreased over time. When compared to the White rate through May 31, 2020, the Hispanic age-adjusted death rate was 3.5 times higher, the Black rate was 1.9 times higher, and the Asian rate was 1.8 times higher. In general, when compared to the White population, all other racial/ethnic groups’ age-adjusted death rates improved throughout the pandemic – even before vaccination was introduced. Hispanic to White population comparisons illustrate this most clearly. When compared to the White rate, the Hispanic rate was 3.5 times higher (May 31, 2020), then 3.1 times higher (September 30, 2020), then 2.4 times higher (December 22, 2020), and then 2.1 times higher (February 22, 2020). “
  • As of February 26, 2021, Black individuals had been vaccinated at a rate 0.6 times lower than White individuals. Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander individuals had even lower rates, at 0.5 times that of White individuals. When looking at only the 65 years and older population, which has been prioritized for vaccination, some of the vaccination rate disparities are smaller (Asian/Pacific Islander rate is 0.5 times lower than the White rate, Black rate is 0.7 times lower and the Hispanic rate is 0.8 times lower”

 

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