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CDC data reveal another racial disparity for COVID-19 victims — age at death

Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

Here's another way COVID-19 isn't playing fair when it comes to race: It claims the lives of Black and Latino Americans earlier than whites.

Among a group of more than 10,000 people who died of COVID-19 in the U.S. in the early months of the outbreak, the typical white victim was 10 years older than the typical Latino victim. He was also nine years older than the typical nonwhite, non-Latino victim, a category dominated by Black Americans.

These findings are based on data from the health departments of 15 states and New York City and may not reflect the true extent of racial disparities across the country. Still, they point to troubling patterns that health authorities should work hard to address, according to a new report led by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The information that states, territories and local public health departments had been sending to the CDC didn't include as many specifics about race, ethnicity, age and underlying medical conditions as the researchers would have liked. So they asked 56 such departments for supplemental information and received more detailed records from 16 of them.

The resulting dataset included 10,647 people with laboratory-confirmed coronavirus infections who died between Feb. 12 and April 24.

Consistent with previous reports, 61% of these COVID-19 victims were men, and 75% were at least 65 years old. In addition, 35% were white, 35% were Black, 24% were Latino and 6% were Asian.

 

Among Latinos, the median age of death was 71 years. Among those who were neither Latino nor white, it was 72 years.

For whites, by contrast, the median age of death was 81 years.

Here's another way of looking at the age gap: In this group, the percentage of Latinos who died who were not yet 65 years old was 35%. For nonwhites, it was 30%. Yet for whites it was only 13% -- a "notable" difference, the study authors wrote.

Some of that difference might be explained by the fact that white Americans, on the whole, are older than other Americans. In the U.S., the median age of whites is 44, versus 31 for nonwhites.

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