Two new studies have revealed the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on mortality rates in certain American communities and during its early days.
In one study, researchers at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health found that black women in Georgia and Michigan were much more likely to die from COVID-19 than white men.
Another paper, from Merck Research Labs, found that nearly one in five Americans died of the virus during the first wave in April and then fell, then rose to one in 10 in November.
It’s because the country registered 2,570 COVID-19-related deaths on Wednesday, the highest figure since Feb. 24, the analysis shows.
A new study from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health found that black women died from COVID-19 at 1.6 times the number of white men in Georgia (left) and 3.8 times the number of white men in Michigan (right)
Another new study from Merck Research Labs found that the death rate of COVID-19 patients was highest in April 2020 (diamond yellow line), when one in five patients died
On Wednesday, the US recorded 2,570 COVID-19-related deaths, the highest rate since Feb. 24
For the first study, published in Journal of General Internal Medicine, the Harvard team looked at the death data for COVID-19 through September 21, 2020 from Georgia and Michigan.
Researchers first looked at differences in death rates between the same race groups over different ages.
They found that in both states, white men and black men were more likely to die from COVID-19 compared to white women and black women, respectively.
For example, in Georgia in the 70-79 age group, 235 white men per 100,000 died from the virus, 50 percent more than 156 white women per 100,000.
Among the same age groups for African Americans, 675 men per 100,000 died, which is 85 percent higher than the 364 women per 100,000 who died.
In total, the death rate in Georgia was 53.2 per 100,000 for white men, 38.2 per 100,000 for white women, 128.5 per 100,000 for black men, and 84.1 per 100,000 for black women.
When comparing different race groups, the researchers found that black women died 1.6 times as fast as white men in Georgia.
Then when they looked at Michigan, they found the same thing: Men died higher than women of all ages within the same race groups.
The results showed that the overall death rate was 39.1 per 100,000 for white men, 29.7 per 100,000 for white women, 254.6 per 100,000 for black men, and 147.1 per 100,000 for black women.
In a cross-comparison, they found that African American women died 3.8 times as many whites as white men in Michigan from the coronavirus.
Co-author Tamara Rushovich, a PhD student at Harvard TH Chan, told the US Huff Post that the findings were “consistent with what we would expect.”
Hospital rates for coronavirus patients were highest among those 65 and older for each month of the study period
In each age group, men diagnosed with COVID-19 were more likely to die than women, with an overall death rate of 12.5% compared to 9.6%
“It is always awful to see such results and it is a shame that this is what we expect,” she said.
Black women are at the crossroads of both gender and racial oppression. It was therefore not surprising that these high percentages are becoming more visible among black women. ‘
Rushovich told the Huff Post that she believes part of the reason black women died more often than white men is due to their jobs.
Many African American women work in roles, such as nurses or health workers, which puts them at greater risk of exposure.
“Because of the long history of racism and structural, gender-based racism, I wouldn’t be surprised to see similar patterns across the country, but there can be different levels of magnitude,” she said in each state.
The two studies show inequalities between racial groups and how the death rate decreased as doctors learned how to treat patients. Pictured: A casket containing Lola Simmons’ body is placed in a hearse after the funeral service at Denley Drive Missionary Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, July 30
In the second study, published in JAMA Network Open, the Merck team looked at patients who had been hospitalized for at least one day for coronavirus in 209 hospitals between March 1 and November 21.
Of the approximately 503,000 admitted patients, more than 42,000 had a confirmed positive coronavirus test within seven days of hospital admission.
For each month of the study period, hospital admissions were highest in the age group 65 and older, from about 40 percent in March to nearly 60 percent in November.
They were also lowest in the 18 to 49 age group, apart from June and July, when rates were briefly higher than the 50 to 64 age group.
Looking at hospital mortality rates, male COVID-19 patients died more often than female patients, 12.5 percent to 9.6 percent, and in any age group.
The results also showed that morality among coronavirus patients in the hospital rose from 10.6 percent in March to 19.7 percent in April.
That means that during the first peak, one in five of all hospital patients died.
Rates then fell, rebounding to 9.3 percent in November, at the start of the third rise.
For each month, the numbers were highest among the age group 75 and older, peaking at 35 percent in April – meaning one in three patients died.
“This large, national study is consistent with recently published smaller studies showing a decrease in in-hospital mortality and risk-adjusted mortality rates for COVID-19,” the authors wrote.
“Reasons for the decrease in mortality since the start of the pandemic include increased clinical experience in the care and ventilation of patients and the use of the prone position, systemic corticosteroids and remdesivir.”