Colorado health department issues preliminary look at COVID-19 demographic data

Hispanic, African American, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander disproportionately affected
colorado coronavirus covid-19 testing
Posted at 10:56 AM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-15 08:51:59-04

DENVER – The COVID-19 disease is affecting Hispanic, African American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Coloradans at higher rates proportionately than other ethnic groups here, according to preliminary data from the state.

COVID-19 cases among Hispanic Coloradans comprise about 28% of the reported cases in the state though they make up about 22% of the state’s population, and about 7% of cases are among African American Coloradans despite making up just 4% of the state’s population.

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An April 14 demographic breakdown of COVID-19 cases in Colorado.

About 0.6% of the state’s cases are among Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders, though that group accounts for just 0.1% of the population.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released the initial data Monday evening, saying those three groups saw statistically higher cases when compared to the state’s population.

The data represents about 75% of reported COVID-19 cases in Colorado, the CDPHE said. Cases where a person’s race or ethnicity are unknown were excluded from the data.

The CDPHE said that there are racial disparities for certain diseases “due to unequal access to health care and economic opportunities occurring over many generations.”

“We know that social and health care inequities affect outcomes, and that becomes even more apparent in times of disaster,” CDPHE Executive Director Jilly Hunsaker-Ryan said in a statement. “There have been generations of institutionalized barriers to things like preventive medical care, healthy food, safe and stable housing, quality education, reliable transportation, and clean air. Research shows that these types of factors are the most predictive of health outcomes. There is much to be learned from this disaster, and the uneven effects of COVID-19 on different communities will perhaps be one of the most profound lessons. It’s apparent now more than ever why we must bridge these inequities and even more closely track the outcomes of COVID-19 by race and ethnicity.”

Cases among white and Asian Coloradans were statistically lower for their population sizes, the state said. White Coloradans account for 69% of the state’s deaths.

Gov. Jared Polis said in a news conference Monday that demographic data could show proxies for economic and health and behavioral issues and said the solution was for everyone to stay home.

“That drops the rates for everybody,” Polis said.

The governor said hospital discharge rate data would also start being released this week along with daily updates on demographics.

As of Monday, there have been 7,684 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Colorado and at least 304 deaths.