Comprehensive Testing Highlights Racial, Ethnic, and Age Disparities in the COVID-19 Outbreak
Ahmed, Sharia M et al.
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The United States (US), which is currently the epicenter for the COVID-19 pandemic, is a country whose demographic composition differs from that of other highly-impacted countries. US-based descriptions of SARS-CoV-2 infections have, for the most part, focused on patient populations with severe disease, captured in areas with limited testing capacity. The objective of this study is to compare characteristics of positive and negative SARS-CoV-2 patients, in a population primarily comprised of mild and moderate infections, identified from comprehensive population-level testing. Here, we extracted demographics, comorbidities, and vital signs from 20,088 patients who were tested for SARS-CoV-2 at University of Utah Health clinics, in Salt Lake County, Utah; and for a subset of tested patients, we performed manual chart review to examine symptoms and exposure risks. To determine risk factors for testing positive, we used logistic regression to calculate the odds of testing positive, adjusting for symptoms and prior exposure. Of the 20,088 individuals, 1,229 (6.1%) tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. We found that Non-White persons were more likely to test positive compared to non-Hispanic Whites (adjOR=1.1, 95% CI: 0.8, 1.6), and that this increased risk is more pronounced among Hispanic or Latino persons (adjOR=2.0, 95%CI: 1.3, 3.1). However, we did not find differences in the duration of symptoms nor type of symptom presentation between non-Hispanic White and non-White individuals. We found that risk of hospitalization increases with age (adjOR=6.9 95% CI: 2.1, 22.5 for age 60+ compared to 0-19), and additionally show that younger individuals (aged 0-19), were underrepresented both in overall rates of testing as well as rates of testing positive. We did not find major race/ethnic differences in hospitalization rates. In this analysis of predominantly non-hospitalized individuals tested for SARS-CoV-2, enabled by expansive testing capacity, we found disparities in both testing and SARS-CoV-2 infection status by race/ethnicity and by age. Further work on addressing racial and ethnic disparities, particularly among Hispanic/Latino communities (where SARS-CoV-2 may be spreading more rapidly due to increased exposure and comparatively reduced testing), will be needed to effectively combat COVID-19 in the US.