Many reports on coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) have highlighted age- and sex-related differences in health outcomes. More information is needed about racial and ethnic differences in outcomes from Covid-19.
In this retrospective cohort study, we analyzed data from patients seen within an integrated-delivery health system (Ochsner Health) in Louisiana between March 1 and April 11, 2020, who tested positive for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19) on qualitative polymerase-chain-reaction assay. The Ochsner Health population is 31% black non-Hispanic and 65% white non-Hispanic. The primary outcomes were hospitalization and in-hospital death.
A total of 3626 patients tested positive, of whom 145 were excluded (84 had missing data on race or ethnic group, 9 were Hispanic, and 52 were Asian or of another race or ethnic group). Of the 3481 Covid-19-positive patients included in our analyses, 60.0% were female, 70.4% were black non-Hispanic, and 29.6% were white non-Hispanic. Black patients had higher prevalences of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and chronic kidney disease than white patients. A total of 39.7% of Covid-19-positive patients (1382 patients) were hospitalized, 76.9% of whom were black. In multivariable analyses, black race, increasing age, a higher score on the Charlson Comorbidity Index (indicating a greater burden of illness), public insurance (Medicare or Medicaid), residence in a low-income area, and obesity were associated with increased odds of hospital admission. Among the 326 patients who died from Covid-19, 70.6% were black. In adjusted time-to-event analyses, variables that were associated with higher in-hospital mortality were increasing age and presentation with an elevated respiratory rate; elevated levels of venous lactate, creatinine, or procalcitonin; or low platelet or lymphocyte counts. However, black race was not independently associated with higher mortality (hazard ratio for death vs. white race, 0.89; 95% confidence interval, 0.68 to 1.17).
In a large cohort in Louisiana, 76.9% of the patients who were hospitalized with Covid-19 and 70.6% of those who died were black, whereas blacks comprise only 31% of the Ochsner Health population. Black race was not associated with higher in-hospital mortality than white race, after adjustment for differences in sociodemographic and clinical characteristics on admission.