WA Dept of Health: Minorities hospitalized, dying at higher rates from COVID-19

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OLYMPIA, Wash – Continuing a trend that the nation has seen since early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, minority communities in Washington are seeing higher death and hospitalization rates from the novel coronavirus.

In a report issued last week, the DOH says “Hospitalization rates are the highest for NHOPI [Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander] and lowest for White populations. NHOPI hospitalization rates are thirteen times higher and Hispanic hospitalization rates are eight times higher compared to Whites.”

It continues, “Hospitalization rates for black and AIAN populations are 3.5 times higher compared to Whites. White populations have the lowest death rates among all race/ethnicity groups. By contrast, NHOPI populations have death rates six times higher than Whites; AIAN and Hispanic populations have death rates four times higher than Whites, and Black populations have death rates that are about twice as high as White populations.”

The state and local health departments have developed better outreach to these communities as the pandemic has continued across Washington. But researchers in the report say “the pandemic has exacerbated the underlying and persistent inequities among historically marginalized communities and those disproportionately impacted due to structural racism and other forms of systemic oppression.”

In some counties, the ethnic data is incomplete. In eastern Washington, for example, ethnicity is not known is 47% of cases.

The full report is available here and explains methodology and limitations of the research. 

The graph for eastern Washington shows the ethnic group most disproportionately affected by COVID-19 are NHOPI. Spokane’s Marshallese community had an outbreak early in the pandemic.

Despite making up a small percentage of Spokane County’s overall population, Pacific Islanders account for 9.4% of hospitalizations.

RELATED: Health data shows Spokane County’s Pacific Islanders disproportionately affected by COVID-19