Black coronavirus patients in the US are being hospitalized much more often in comparison with other races, a new study suggests.
Researchers, from the California-based healthcare system Sutter Health, found that African-Americans were being admitted at nearly three times the rate of white and Hispanic patients.
What’s more, black patients were more than twice as likely to be transferred to intensive care units once hospitalized compared to white patients.
The team suggests that, despite having insurance, black COVID-19 patients may not be tested or seek medical care until it is an emergency that requires hospitalization.
Black coronavirus patients were admitted at 2.7 times the rate of white and Hispanic patients. Pictured: A nurse cleans a patient with COVID-19 on a ventilator at the Stamford Hospital ICU in Stamford, Connecticut, April 24
After being hospitalized, 24.6% of African Americans were transferred to the ICU compared to 10.7% of their white counterparts. Pictured: A person is taken from a Chicago Fire Department ambulance into the emergency room at Roseland Community Hospital, April 21
For the study, published in Health Affairs, the team looked at more than 1,000 Sutter Health patients who tested positive from January 1 to April 8.
Results showed that African Americans are being hospitalized at 2.7 times the rate of white and Hispanic patients.
The findings held true when adjusted for age, sex, household income and pre-existing conditions such as obesity and diabetes.
More than 52 percent of African American patients with confirmed COVID-19 cases were hospitalized compared to 25.7 percent of white patients.
Additionally, 24.6 percent of blacks were transferred to the ICU in comparison with 10.7 percent of their white counterparts.
Researchers also found that black patients were less likely to be tested for the virus or go to the emergency room for care compared to white, Hispanic or Asian patients.
‘The COVID-19 pandemic has ripped a Band-Aid off of the structural inequities that exist within our society. We must address these disparities right away because the cost of not addressing them is measured in human life,’ Dr Stephen Lockhart, chief medical officer at Sutter Health, said in a statement.
‘With lives on the line, we as a state can and should do better in connecting minority patients to culturally competent care.’
The researchers noted health coverage does not equate access and that the fact that Africans Americans are being hospitalized at higher rates means there are health disparities.
In California, African Americans make up six percent of the state population, but make up more than 10 percent of COVID-19 deaths for which race has been reported.
‘The real value of the study lies not in the disparities it reveals but in its utility to inform our work to develop solutions that will address the equity gaps we are seeing with programs such as community outreach and engagement in at-risk neighborhoods,’ said lead author Kristen Azar a nurse at Sutter Health.
‘This pandemic underscores the need to develop innovative solutions that are specifically tailored to address the unmet needs of those at highest risk.’
The results from the new study mirror the patterns seen in other studies across the US and around the world.
Last week, a study from the non-partisan APM Research Lab found that blacks in the US were dying at higher rates than white patients.
Across the country, African Americans have died at a rate of 50.3 per 100,000 people – two-and-a-half times the rate of white people at 20.7 per 100,000.
And earlier this month, a new analysis from the UK found that black and Asian Britons were two-and-a-half times more likely to die from coronavirus than white people.
In the US, there are more than 1.6 million confirmed cases of the virus and more than 97,000 deaths.