Racial health disparities have long existed in the United States, and now COVID-19 is exacerbating them. Health experts are now pushing for more research on the impact of coronavirus on children, especially those with racial inequities and social determinants of health.
Black and Hispanic children are being impacted more severely as these communities are experiencing higher case rates, hospitalizations and virus-related complications. In some communities, Black and Hispanic populations are infected four to five times more than the white population. Plus, once infected, minorities have about twice the chance of becoming seriously ill and dying compared to the white population.
A new report published by the CDC states that Black and Hispanic children are more likely to be hospitalized due to coronavirus than white children. After examining hospital records from 14 states, the CDC found 576 COVID-19 cases among children who needed hospitalization between March and July. Out of these cases, Hispanic children were hospitalized at the highest rate, followed by Black children. The CDC also reported higher rates of multi-system inflammatory syndrome in these populations.
One thing that is still being researched is why. The most likely answer is due to social determinants of health in these populations. Many Black and Hispanic Americans are essential workers and cannot take the proper social distancing measures, are reliant on public transportation or live in crowded housing. As the adults in the family experience these disparities and become infected, it is passed along to the children. While the virus itself does not discriminate, the social conditions leading to infection clearly do.
The infection rates in minority populations has shed a light on many social issues that still need to be addressed. The data available shows a clear trend that disproportionately affects the Black and Hispanic populations, but the research is still ongoing to get to the root of the issue and ensure equal opportunities for health for everyone.