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Racial disparities
in COVID-19 outcomes

Racial disparities in COVID-19 outcomes exist despite comparable Elixhauser comorbidity indices between Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Whites.

ABSTRACT

Factors contributing to racial inequities in outcomes from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) remain poorly understood. We compared by race the risk of 4 COVID-19 health outcomes––maximum length of hospital stay (LOS), invasive ventilation, hospitalization exceeding 24 h, and death––stratified by Elixhauser comorbidity index (ECI) ranking. Outcomes and ECI scores were constructed from retrospective data obtained from the Cerner COVID-19 De-Identified Data cohort. We hypothesized that racial disparities in COVID-19 outcomes would exist despite comparable ECI scores among non-Hispanic (NH) Blacks, Hispanics, American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs), and NH Whites. Compared with NH Whites, NH Blacks had longer hospital LOS, higher rates of ventilator dependence, and a higher mortality rate; AI/ANs, higher odds of hospitalization for ECI = 0 but lower for ECI ≥ 5, longer LOS for ECI = 0, a higher risk of death across all ECI categories except ECI ≥ 5, and higher odds of ventilator dependence; Hispanics, a lower risk of death across all ECI categories except ECI = 0, lower odds of hospitalization, shorter LOS for ECI ≥ 5, and higher odds of ventilator dependence for ECI = 0 but lower for ECI = 1–4. Our findings contest arguments that higher comorbidity levels explain elevated COVID-19 death rates among NH Blacks and AI/ANs compared with Hispanics and NH Whites.


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