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COVID-19 Mortality Tied to Social Determinants of Health

Counties with higher proportion of Black residents, poverty, lower education have higher COVID-19 death rates

MONDAY, Feb. 8, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Racial differences in COVID-19 death rates are explained by adverse social determinants of health, including education and poverty, according to a study published Jan. 5 in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities.

Ankur K. Dalsania, from the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in Newark, and colleagues used publicly available databases on COVID-19 death rates through Oct. 28, 2020, to determine the association between social determinants of health and COVID-19 mortality.

The researchers found that counties with higher death rates had a higher proportion of Black residents and greater levels of adverse social determinants of health. For each 1 percentage point increase in percent Black residents, percent uninsured adults, percent low birthweight, percent adults without high school diploma, incarceration rate, and percent households without internet in a county, there was an increase in the COVID-19 death rates of 0.9 to 7.6 percent. The COVID-19 death rates increased by 67.5 percent for counties in the lowest quintile of economic privilege.

“This study demonstrates that social determinants of health contribute to COVID-19 mortality for Black Americans at the county level, highlighting the need for public health policies that address racial disparities in health outcomes,” the authors write.

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