In the United States, racial and ethnic minorities disproportionately experience hospitalization or fatal coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), despite no evidence that biological factors predispose these groups to worse outcomes. Recent studies point to systemic inequities in social determinants of health as the culprit behind these disparities.

Researchers believe that racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to experience severe COVID-19 outcomes through two mechanisms (that are rooted in structural racism):


1)  A higher likelihood of contracting COVID-19 through work exposure, community contact, or household transmission. Black Americans represent 11.9% of the workforce but are disproportionately represented in frontline or essential jobs that require public interaction. For example, 30% of nurses that provide basic bedside nursing care are Black Americans. Additionally, many minorities live in multigenerational homes, or crowded living conditions (including prisons and jails) that are not conducive to social distancing.

2)  As a result of underlying health conditions and suboptimal healthcare access and quality. Discrimination, which includes racism, causes toxic stress and impaired health. Racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to face barriers to healthcare access and quality. For example, in 2017, 18% of Hispanics did not have health insurance compared to 6% of white Americans. Some barriers to COVID-19 testing in these communities include drive-thru testing necessitating a car, testing initially only in affluent neighborhoods, and requiring a physician referral.

Racial Inequity / Structural Racism / KidsMates
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Source: Retrieved from 9/24/20

Severe COVID-19 Outcomes in Racial & Ethnic Minorities