Characteristics and Factors Associated with COVID-19 Infection, Hospitalization, and Mortality Across Race and Ethnicity

medRxiv [Preprint]. 2021 Feb 12:2020.10.14.20212803. doi: 10.1101/2020.10.14.20212803.


Background: Data on the characteristics of COVID-19 patients disaggregated by race/ethnicity remain limited. We evaluated the sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of patients across racial/ethnic groups and assessed their associations with COVID-19 outcomes.

Methods: This retrospective cohort study examined 629,953 patients tested for SARS-CoV-2 in a large health system spanning California, Oregon, and Washington between March 1 and December 31, 2020. Sociodemographic and clinical characteristics were obtained from electronic health records. Odds of SARS-CoV-2 infection, COVID-19 hospitalization, and in-hospital death were assessed with multivariate logistic regression.

Results: 570,298 patients with known race/ethnicity were tested for SARS-CoV-2, of whom 27.8% were non-White minorities. 54,645 individuals tested positive, with minorities representing 50.1%. Hispanics represented 34.3% of infections but only 13.4% of tests. While generally younger than White patients, Hispanics had higher rates of diabetes but fewer other comorbidities. 8,536 patients were hospitalized and 1,246 died, of whom 56.1% and 54.4% were non-White, respectively. Racial/ethnic distributions of outcomes across the health system tracked with state-level statistics. Increased odds of testing positive and hospitalization were associated with all minority races/ethnicities. Hispanic patients also exhibited increased morbidity, and Hispanic race/ethnicity was associated with in-hospital mortality (OR: 1.39 [95% CI: 1.14-1.70]).

Conclusion: Major healthcare disparities were evident, especially among Hispanics who tested positive at a higher rate, required excess hospitalization and mechanical ventilation, and had higher odds of in-hospital mortality despite younger age. Targeted, culturally-responsive interventions and equitable vaccine development and distribution are needed to address the increased risk of poorer COVID-19 outcomes among minority populations.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; health disparity; public health; race/ethnicity.

Publication types

  • Preprint