Disparities in Incidence of COVID-19 Among Underrepresented Racial/Ethnic Groups in Counties Identified as Hotspots During June 5-18, 2020 - 22 States, February-June 2020

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2020 Aug 21;69(33):1122-1126. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6933e1.


During January 1, 2020-August 10, 2020, an estimated 5 million cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) were reported in the United States.* Published state and national data indicate that persons of color might be more likely to become infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, experience more severe COVID-19-associated illness, including that requiring hospitalization, and have higher risk for death from COVID-19 (1-5). CDC examined county-level disparities in COVID-19 cases among underrepresented racial/ethnic groups in counties identified as hotspots, which are defined using algorithmic thresholds related to the number of new cases and the changes in incidence. Disparities were defined as difference of ≥5% between the proportion of cases and the proportion of the population or a ratio ≥1.5 for the proportion of cases to the proportion of the population for underrepresented racial/ethnic groups in each county. During June 5-18, 205 counties in 33 states were identified as hotspots; among these counties, race was reported for ≥50% of cumulative cases in 79 (38.5%) counties in 22 states; 96.2% of these counties had disparities in COVID-19 cases in one or more underrepresented racial/ethnic groups. Hispanic/Latino (Hispanic) persons were the largest group by population size (3.5 million persons) living in hotspot counties where a disproportionate number of cases among that group was identified, followed by black/African American (black) persons (2 million), American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) persons (61,000), Asian persons (36,000), and Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islander (NHPI) persons (31,000). Examining county-level data disaggregated by race/ethnicity can help identify health disparities in COVID-19 cases and inform strategies for preventing and slowing SARS-CoV-2 transmission. More complete race/ethnicity data are needed to fully inform public health decision-making. Addressing the pandemic's disproportionate incidence of COVID-19 in communities of color can reduce the community-wide impact of COVID-19 and improve health outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections / ethnology*
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / ethnology*
  • Racial Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology