As the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, people of color were bearing the brunt of the virus. African Americans specifically were more likely to fall ill with the virus, get hospitalized, and die than White patients.
In total, more than 600,000 individuals have died due to the pandemic. Over 178 million worldwide have had some complications with COVID-19. According to a recent study published by JAMA Network Open, researchers aimed to examine the role hospitals had that influenced patient deaths, specifically looking at people of color.
The study analyzed more than 44,000 Medicare Advantage patients with COVID-19 to more than 1,180 hospitals across 41 states. The researchers found that African American patients who were admitted to a hospital with COVID-19 are 11% more likely to die than their White counterparts. This statistic was found after adjusting for patient and clinical characteristics.
The study also ran simulations and found that if those same patients were admitted to the same hospitals as their White counterparts, their health outcomes would be relatively equal.
The virus arrived in the US at a time of social and racial reform, an issue the medical field has been struggling with for years. The pandemic illustrated the inequalities and inequities in the United States that people of color were more likely to have long-standing complications and die due to COVID than their White counterparts.
The study demonstrates that where individuals live and work influences where they receive medical care; many individuals tend to seek care closer to their homes. For many years, people of color were denied housing and care in certain areas due to redlining, which was meant to keep out certain races out of neighborhoods. Redlining led to segregation in cities and unequal access to resources, like hospitals and jobs.
The researchers mentioned that this study further illustrates the unequal policies that continue in the United States. These policies point towards issues like housing, job security, and insurance, that leave people of color with unequal access to resources, opportunities, health care, and housing. 1
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1 Liss, S. (2021, June 21). Black patients were more likely to die of COVID-19 largely due to inferior hospitals. MedTech Dive. https://www.medtechdive.com/news/black-patients-more-likely-die-of-covid-19-inferior-hospitals-JAMA/602147/