Racial disparities in Covid-19 case rates among young people were prevalent early in the pandemic, CDC study says

Early in the pandemic, young people from all racial and ethnic minority groups had higher Covid-19 case rates than non-Hispanic White people under the age of...

Posted: Mar 10, 2021 12:20 PM

Early in the pandemic, young people from all racial and ethnic minority groups had higher Covid-19 case rates than non-Hispanic White people under the age of 25, according to a study published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Between January and April, case rates compared to young White people were about 1.5 times higher among young Asian people, about 2.5 times higher among young Black people and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders, nearly 4 times higher among young Hispanic people and about 4.6 times higher among young American Indians.

After April, case rates among young White people started to increase, decreasing some disparities in this age group. But among those under the age of 25, Covid-19 incidence relative to White people was persistently higher among young Hispanics, American Indians and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders.

In 2020 overall, Hispanic people under the age of 25 were about 1.5 times more likely than young White people to have Covid-19, while young American Indians were about 1.7 times more likely and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders were about 2.3 times more likely.

The Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected racial and ethnic minority groups in the US, with pronounced disparities in severe outcomes. Social determinants of health likely play a role in disparities in case spread, as well.

"The large racial and ethnic COVID-19 disparities identified early in the pandemic in this analysis might reflect differential ability to participate in early mitigation measures, such as stay-at-home orders," according to the report.

"Racial and ethnic minority groups are disproportionately represented in essential work settings, making it difficult for youths and parents to stay at home; a higher likelihood of living in a multigenerational household also increases the risk for household exposures."

The CDC analyzed about 690,000 Covid-19 cases among people under the age of 25 in 2020. Cases were selected from 15 states and Washington, DC, focusing on jurisdictions where race and ethnicity were more frequently reported.

The CDC study is limited in its scope. Case data from the 16 jurisdictions represents only about a quarter of the national population of people under the age of 25, and race and ethnicity data was incomplete for about a quarter of the cases analyzed. Also, disparities in access to testing may lead to an underestimation of disparities in reported cases.

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