Association of Race and Ethnicity With Comorbidities and Survival Among Patients With COVID-19 at an Urban Medical Center in New York

JAMA Netw Open. 2020 Sep 1;3(9):e2019795. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.19795.


Importance: As of May 11, 2020, there have been more than 290 000 deaths worldwide from severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Risk-adjusted differences in outcomes among patients of differing ethnicity and race categories are not well characterized.

Objectives: To investigate whether presenting comorbidities in patients with COVID-19 in New York City differed by race/ethnicity and whether case fatality rates varied among different ethnic and racial groups, controlling for presenting comorbidities and other risk factors.

Design, setting, and participants: This cohort study included 5902 patients who presented for care to the Montefiore Medical Center, a large urban academic medical center in the Bronx, New York, between March 14 and April 15, 2020, and tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 on reverse transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction assay. Final data collection was April 27, 2020.

Exposures: Patient characteristics, including self-identified ethnicity/race, age, sex, socioeconomic status, and medical comorbidities, were tabulated.

Main outcomes and measures: Overall survival. Associations between patient demographic characteristics, comorbidities, and race/ethnicity were examined using χ2 tests, and the association with survival was assessed using univariable and multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression, based on time from positive COVID-19 test.

Results: Of 9268 patients who were tested, 5902 ethnically diverse patients (63.7%) had SARS-CoV-2. Of these, 3129 patients (53.0%) were women, and the median (interquartile range) age was 58 (44-71) years. A total of 918 patients (15.5%) died within the study time frame. Overall, 1905 patients (32.3%) identified as Hispanic; 1935 (32.8%), non-Hispanic Black; 509 (8.6%), non-Hispanic White; and 171 (2.9%), Asian; the death rates were 16.2% (309), 17.2% (333), 20.0% (102), and 17.0% (29), respectively (P = .25). Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black patients had a higher proportion of more than 2 medical comorbidities with 654 (34.3%) and 764 (39.5%), respectively, compared with 147 (28.9%) among non-Hispanic White patients (P < .001). Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black patients were also more likely to test positive for COVID-19 than White patients, with 1905 of 2919 Hispanic patients (65.3%), 1935 of 2823 non-Hispanic Black patients (68.5%), and 509 of 960 non-Hispanic White patients (53.0%) having positive test results for SARS-CoV-2 (P < .001). While controlling for age, sex, socioeconomic status and comorbidities, patients identifying as Hispanic (hazard ratio, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.61-0.98; P = .03) or non-Hispanic Black (hazard ratio, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.55-0.87; P = .002) had slightly improved survival compared with non-Hispanic White patients.

Conclusions and relevance: In this cohort study of patients with COVID-19 who presented for care at the same urban medical center, non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic patients did not experience worse risk-adjusted outcomes compared with their White counterparts. This finding is important for understanding the observed population differences in mortality by race/ethnicity reported elsewhere.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asian People*
  • Betacoronavirus
  • Black or African American*
  • COVID-19
  • Cause of Death*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Coronavirus
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / mortality
  • Coronavirus Infections / virology
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino*
  • Hospitalization*
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / mortality
  • Pneumonia, Viral / virology
  • Racial Groups
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Urban Population
  • White People*