More than 70 percent of COVID-19 patients treated at five Detroit hospitals are African American, providing further evidence that racial minorities are at greater risk from the new coronavirus, according to the results of an analysis published Tuesday by JAMA Network Open.
The research also showed that 94 percent of more than 450 patients included in the study had at least one underlying health condition, nearly 40 percent of them were admitted to the intensive care unit and 25 percent required ventilator support.
Males were twice as likely to require ICU care, as were those with severe obesity or chronic kidney disease, the researchers said.
"COVID-19 rapidly spread throughout the state of Michigan and has disproportionately affected the African-American population," researchers wrote in the study.
"This study provides additional insight into the clinical presentation and outcomes of COVID-19 in an urban setting," they wrote. "Most of our patients were African American and required hospitalization."
Overall, 72 percent of patients included in the analysis were African American, according to the researchers. Nearly 64 percent of them had high blood pressure, while roughly 40 percent had chronic kidney disease or diabetes, the researchers said.
Ultimately, more than 60 percent of these patients developed severe shortness of breath caused by COVID-19, they said.
Through Tuesday morning, more than 2.1 million Americans have been infected with the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, according to figures from researchers at Johns Hopkins University.
Despite accounting for less than 20 percent of the total population of the United States, African Americans make up one-third of all hospitalized patients with COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates.
In Michigan, as of May 14, African Americans accounted for 32 percent of all COVID-19 cases and 41 percent of deaths caused by the virus, despite making up only 14 percent of the state's population, according to the authors of the JAMA report.
"Factors such as lower-wage positions and employment in critical infrastructure jobs, higher rates of poverty, lack of access to a private vehicle and reliance on public transportation, and unstable or crowded housing conditions, make preventive strategies such as social distancing ... difficult to maintain," the researchers wrote.
"These social determinants of health result in lack of health insurance and access to care, which may put patients at a disproportionately greater risk ... from COVID-19."