Coronavirus: Racial mortality disparities tied to social factors

Racial mortality disparities in the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic are associated with factors like income, education, and internet access.

Social factors like income are associated to COVID-19 coronavirus racial mortality disparities.

According to a news release, a study performed by Rutgers University and published in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities found a 1 percentage point increase in a county's percent of Black residents, uninsured adults, low birthweight infants, adults without a high school diploma, incarceration rate and households without internet increased that county's COVID-19 death rates during the time period examined.

The study looked at the association between COVID-19 cases and deaths in 2,026 U.S. counties from January to October 2020 as well as the social determinants of health and factors known or thought to impact outcomes with the disease. These include the counties' population density, days since the first COVID-19 death and percent of residents who are over age 65, are smokers or who have chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or high blood pressure.

The release says that the counties most socioeconomically deprived had a 67 percent increase in the COVID-19 death rates during the study period.

"The findings are consistent with historical health inequities in marginalized populations, particularly Black Americans," Michelle DallaPiazza, lead author and an associate professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, says in the release. "This adds to the extensive literature on racial health disparities that demonstrate that social and structural factors greatly influence health outcomes, and this is particularly true when it comes to COVID-19."

Racial disparities during the COVID-19 pandemic and how to overcome them was the main topic of a recent webinar presented by the MJH Life Sciences COVID-19 Coalition. More information on what was discussed at the webinar can be found here.