Racial Disparities and COVID-19: Exploring the Relationship Between Race/Ethnicity, Personal Factors, Health Access/Affordability, and Conditions Associated with an Increased Severity of COVID-19

Clay, Shondra Loggins; Woodson, Markisha J.; Mazurek, Kathryn; Antonio, Beverly
Race and Social Problems

COVID-19 was recognized as a pandemic in the United States in March 2020. Since the emergence, research has explored conditions associated with the illness; however, racial disparities remain underexplored. The purpose of this paper is to explore disparities in conditions associated with an increased severity risk of COVID-19 including race, personal factors, healthcare accessibility, and affordability. Using data from the 2018 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), univariate and multivariate analysis were performed. More Non-Hispanic (NH) Blacks (61.1%) and NH Whites (61.2%) had conditions associated with increased severity risk of COVID-19 compared to Hispanics (47.1%) (p < .001). Racial differences revealed a higher proportion of NH Blacks with increased severity risk of COVID-19 were female (p < .001), not married (p < .001), not employed for wages (p < .001), had accessibility issues with transportation (p < .001), and had affordability issues with paying for medicine (p < .001). A higher proportion of Hispanic persons had a health place change (p = .020), had accessibility issues (e.g. telephone (p < .001), longer wait times (p < .001), closed facility (p = .038)) and had affordability issue with worrying about pay (p < .001). Significant predictors that were positively associated with increased severity risk of COVID-19 for all racial/ethnic groups were being NH Black, older age, having appointment issues, and affordability issues with medicine. Differences in magnitude across racial group dynamics were observed. Racial disparities exist in conditions associated with increased severity risk of COVID-19. As future policies and interventions are developed, it is important to consider differentials across racial group dynamics.