Skip to main content
Skip to footer
Cerner RWD Publications Logo - Light
Racial and ethnic
outcomes of COVID-19
patients in emergency

Racial and ethnic differences and clinical outcomes of COVID-19 patients presenting to the emergency department.



Since the introduction of remdesivir and dexamethasone for severe COVID-19 treatment, few large multi-hospital system US studies have described clinical characteristics and outcomes of minority COVID-19 patients who present to the emergency department (ED).


This cohort study from the Cerner Real World Database (87 US health systems) from December 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020 included PCR-confirmed COVID-19 patients who self-identified as non-Hispanic Black (Black), Hispanic White (Hispanic), or non-Hispanic White (White). The main outcome was hospitalization among ED patients. Secondary outcomes included mechanical ventilation, intensive care unit care, and in-hospital mortality. Descriptive statistics and Poisson regression compared sociodemographics, comorbidities, receipt of remdesivir, receipt of dexamethasone, and outcomes by racial/ethnic groups and geographic region.


94,683 COVID-19 patients presented to the ED. Blacks comprised 26.7% and Hispanics 33.6%. Nearly half (45.1%) of ED patients presented to hospitals in the South. 31.4% (n=29,687) were hospitalized. Lower proportions of Blacks were prescribed dexamethasone (29.4%; n=7,426) compared to Hispanics (40.9%; n=13,021) and Whites (37.5%; n=14,088). Hospitalization risks, compared to Whites, were similar in Blacks (Risk Ratio (RR)=0.94; 95% CI:0.82, 1.08; p=0.4)) and Hispanics RR=0.99 (95% CI:0.81, 1.21; p=0.91), but risk of in-hospital mortality was higher in Blacks, RR=1.18 (95% CI:1.06, 1.31; p=0.002) and Hispanics, RR=1.28 (95% CI: 1.13, 1.44; p < 0.001).


Minority patients were overrepresented among COVID-19 ED patients, and while they had similar risks of hospitalization as Whites, in-hospital mortality risk was higher. Interventions targeting upstream social determinants of health are needed to reduce racial/ethnic disparities in COVID-19.