African-Americans are more likely to test positive for – and be hospitalized with – the new coronavirus than Caucasian people, a new study suggests.
Researchers found that black adults in the US were three times more likely to test positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, compared to white adults.
In addition, black coronavirus patients were nearly twice as likely to be hospitalized compared to their white counterparts.
The team, from the University of Michigan School of Public Health, say the findings show that racially diverse communities need more testing and treatment efforts to lower both their infection and hospital admissions.
A new study from the University of Michigan found that of the more than 1,100 people who tested positive for COVID-19, 41.8% were black and 13.2% were white – a three-fold increase. Pictured: Health workers push a patient to a less intensive unit of the COVID-19 unit at the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, July 2
African Americans with coronavirus were nearly twice as likely to be hospitalized as whites, but not more likely to be hospitalized or die (above)
For the study, published in JAMA Network Open, the team looked at nearly 5,700 patients who were tested or treated at the University of Michigan between March 1 and April 22.
The results for these patients were followed through July 28.
Researchers looked at factors such as race, age, smoking, body mass index and pre-existing conditions such as type 2 diabetes and kidney disease.
Of the more than 1,100 patients who tested positive for the virus, 41.8 percent were black and 13.2 percent were white – a three-fold increase.
The team says this is alarming because, according to the census, only 13 percent of the U.S. population is made up of black people.
Obesity and cancer significantly increased the risk of positive test results for COVID-19 in black patients.
African Americans who were obese were three times as likely to test positive for the virus as obese whites.
Cancer was associated with a 1.8 times higher risk of positive COVID-19 test results for black patients compared to white patients.
Less than 40 percent of white adults with coronavirus were hospitalized and more than 50 percent of black adults were also hospitalized.
After adjusting for co-factors, the results showed that black patients were 1.72 times more likely to be hospitalized than white patients.
One of the only underlying health problems for which white patients were at higher risk of hospitalization was type 2 diabetes, at a 2.5 times higher risk than black patients.
However, there were no significant differences between races when it came to ICU admission or death.
“The findings of this cohort study highlight that poor COVID-19 outcomes are disproportionately associated with at-risk populations,” the authors wrote.
‘[W]e advocate increased investment in testing and prevention efforts in communities of lower socio-economic status, densely populated and racially diverse communities.
“They are the same communities that are home to a higher proportion of essential workers and therefore need more testing and protection.”
Several other studies have led to similar conclusions, such as a Center for Disease Control and Prevention analysis who found disproportionately high COVID-19 hospital admissions for black people between March 1 and March 30.
Another study found a higher likelihood of being hospitalized for COVID-19 in black California residents than white people.
In addition to higher rates of pre-existing conditions, researchers say black Americans have less access to health care compared to white residents.