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Race and Income Influence Risk for Severe COVID-19

Higher risk seen for black and American Indian versus white adults, for those living in low-income households

hospital patient in bed

TUESDAY, May 5, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Race and income influence the risk for severe illness from COVID-19, according to a study published online April 28 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Matthew Raifman, M.P.P., and Julia Raifman, Sc.D., from the Boston University School of Public Health, used data from the 2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to estimate the proportion of adults with at least one of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria for risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

The researchers found that about 43 percent of adults were at higher risk for illness from COVID-19; 28 percent of those aged <65 years were at higher risk. Among those aged <65 years, 33 and 42 percent of blacks and American Indians, respectively, versus 27 percent of whites were at higher risk (prevalence ratios, 1.22 and 1.53, respectively). Eighteen percent of adults aged <65 years had two or more risk factors, including 11 and 18 percent of blacks and American Indians, respectively, versus 8 percent of whites (prevalence ratios, 1.27 and 2.15, respectively). Among those aged ≥65 years, 69 and 61 percent of American Indian and black people, respectively, had an additional risk factor beyond age, compared with 54 percent of whites (prevalence ratios, 1.28 and 1.12, respectively). At least 25 million adults living in low-income households were higher risk, with disparities seen across age groups.

"COVID-19 is the latest chapter in the book about how structural disparities shape the burden of disease in America," Matthew Raifman said in a statement.

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