New figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the advancement of the COVID-19 pandemic should be a nationwide wake-up call about the health crisis that is currently hitting Latinx, African American, and native communities within the United States.
Even though we already knew that minorities were being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, the new data suggests that the impact is not only deeper, but also threatens to worsen the health crisis and become a chronic public health problem for communities of color living in the country.
Out of 599,636 cases with accurate racial or ethnic information, 33% of those infected were Latinas or Latinos of any racial origin, even though we account for 18% of the U.S. population. For African Americans, who make up 13% of the population, the number of cases were at 22%.
Although the CDC recognized that the proportion of missing race and ethnicity data limits results, figures are consistent with the analysis of the Associated Hospitalizations Surveillance Network (Covid-Net), which found that the highest percentages among patients hospitalized with COVID-19 were African Americans and Hispanics, relative to the entire population.
Hispanics are hospitalized in a ratio of four to one compared to non-Hispanic whites. African Americans are at a 4.5 ratio and natives are 5 to 1.
The racial and ethnic overview of COVID-19 cases in the United States makeup 36% of the non-Hispanic whites, 4% Asians and 1.3% among Native Americans and those from Alaska. The latter are disproportionately accepted while representing 0.7% of the U.S. population.
Though COVID-19 prevalence was similar among men and women, the most severe cases were reported among men. Similarly, people over the age of 70, regardless of underlying conditions, had the highest level of hospitalizations, admissions to intensive care units, and fatal outcomes.
Revealing statistics from the CDC show the people with serious underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or chronic lung disease, liver or kidney disease, or compromised immune systems, were hospitalized six times higher than healthy people. The likelihood of death was 12 times higher compared to people without these conditions.
Lack of medical access, income gaps, types of employment, transportation and even their zip codes have been and continue to be social determinants of health that have aggravated the medical picture of racial and ethnic minorities living with chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, asthma and hypertension.
It is true that no segment of the population is safe from being infected by COVID-19, but for Hispanics, African Americans and natives, this is a perfect storm that requires urgent intervention from health and public communications on access to health options and resources, and timely and culturally relevant information on how to stay safe and sound.