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Americans of Color: More COVID-19 Infections, Hospitalizations, Deaths

August 27, 2020

Across the U.S., as the COVID-19 pandemic increases the health concerns and economic struggles of many American families, new studies continue to magnify the fact that certain Americans are being disproportionately affected by the pandemic’s devastation. Americans of color—Black, American Indian, Alaska Native Americans, and Latinx—are facing more COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths than White Americans.

Two key articles released last week highlight this continuing burden of COVID-19 on certain American communities of color.

Kaiser Family Foundation Analysis

Racial Disparities in COVID-19: Key Findings from Available Data and Analysis, released recently by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), reveals disparities in COVID-19 cases and deaths affecting Americans of color. The analysis concluded that these communities:

  • Are experiencing a higher number of COVID-19 cases and related deaths
  • Have a higher risk of COVID-19-related hospitalizations
  • Have higher rates of COVID-19 infection and hospitalization among Medicare beneficiaries, long-term care and nursing home facilities, and among pregnant women and children
  • May face increased barriers to COVID-19 testing

The KFF analysis concludes that nationwide COVID-19 relief, including treatment and vaccines when both become available, should consider these serious disparities and allocate resources accordingly. According to the report, “Prioritizing equity will be key for addressing the current gaps in COVID-19 and health care more broadly and preventing widening of disparities in the future.”

JAMA Network Open Commentary

A newly published commentary focuses on the struggles faced by Black communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, Race Disparities in the COVID-19 Pandemic—Solutions Lie in Policy, Not Biology, stresses the importance of dissolving health care-related disparities. The commentary advises that this only will be done through national policies aimed at the root of the problem—improving the social and environmental conditions that lead to poorer health, and by supporting greater access to health care:

  • Promoting health equity
  • Increasing access to health care for all Americans
  • Incentivizing the creation of equitable employment opportunities
  • Addressing long-standing resource and wealth inequality
  • Promoting healthy living environments for all Americans

In Pennsylvania, the Wolf Administration recently released task force recommendations aimed at addressing racial and socioeconomic disparities that have been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

HAP and Pennsylvania’s hospitals continue to work to identify and promote initiatives that address health disparities in Pennsylvania’s communities disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and policies that will permanently promote health equity.

For more information, contact Laura Stevens Kent, HAP’s senior vice president, strategic integration, or Jennifer Jordan, HAP’s vice president, regulatory advocacy.