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More than 70% of coronavirus patients who died in 40 Louisiana hospitals were black, study finds

More than 70 percent of hospitalized coronavirus patients who died in one Louisiana health system were black, a disturbing new study found. 

Of the patients hospitalized for COVID-19, more than 76 percent were black. Only about a third of the community served by the Ochsner Health system is black. 

The new research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine is just the latest in mounting body of evidence that  minority – and especially black – Americans are disproportionately being killed by coronavirus. 

Reasons for this unsettling trend are multiple, complicated and interwoven. 

The New Orleans-based team noted that black patients were more likely to have underlying health conditions noted for raising risks of severe COVID-19, like heart disease or diabetes, to work jobs that increased their exposures to the virus, and are genetically prone to worse inflammation. 

More than 70 percent of the coronavirus patients who died in Louisiana's Ochsner Health system were black, a new study reveals. Louisiana, where a third of the population, has been hard-hit by coronavirus, which claimed the life of Mardi Gras royalty, Larry Hammond, in April. Only 10 mourners were allowed at his funeral (pictured)

More than 70 percent of the coronavirus patients who died in Louisiana's Ochsner Health system were black, a new study reveals. Louisiana, where a third of the population, has been hard-hit by coronavirus, which claimed the life of Mardi Gras royalty, Larry Hammond, in April. Only 10 mourners were allowed at his funeral (pictured)

More than 70 percent of the coronavirus patients who died in Louisiana’s Ochsner Health system were black, a new study reveals. Louisiana, where a third of the population, has been hard-hit by coronavirus, which claimed the life of Mardi Gras royalty, Larry Hammond, in April. Only 10 mourners were allowed at his funeral (pictured) 

‘This study provides comparative epidemiologic characteristics of black non-Hispanic patients who are underrepresented in the Covid-19 medical literature to date. The study also sheds light on differences in clinical presentations,’ the authors wrote. 

That isn’t new. Rates of poor health outcomes and chronic disease among black Americans have long been higher than among white Americans while research on minorities has been relatively sparse.   

Coronavirus does not discriminate, but the same trends have been apparent over the course of the pandemic. 

In every practically every measure studied by the Ochsner Health group, black patients were disproportionately affected. 

A total of 3,626 patients tested positive at one of 40 Ochsner hospitals, and 70.4 percent of them were black. 

Black patients represented more than 76 percent of those who tested positive in the Ochsner system, which serves a population that is just 31% black

Black patients represented more than 76 percent of those who tested positive in the Ochsner system, which serves a population that is just 31% black

Black patients represented more than 76 percent of those who tested positive in the Ochsner system, which serves a population that is just 31% black 

More than 81 percent of critically ill coronavirus patients who needed ventilators were black

More than 81 percent of critically ill coronavirus patients who needed ventilators were black

More than 81 percent of critically ill coronavirus patients who needed ventilators were black

Only one third of Louisiana’s population and 31 percent of Ochsner patients are black, meaning the proportion of positives was more than double what one would expect if all things were equal.   

The researchers posit that one reason black people in Louisiana were overrepresented in the positive test results may be the kinds of jobs they work. 

Most people working in the service industry in the state are members of a minority group, and these people – grocery store employees, fast food restaurant workers – had to continue working throughout the pandemic as their jobs are considered ‘essential services.’ 

Low wages paid for these types of positions also mean that these groups were less likely to be able to stay home, and instead went to work where their chances of exposure to coronavirus were higher.  

Louisiana's nursing homes have been particularly leveled by coronavirus, a topic discussed by Governor John Bel Edwards and President Trump in April

Louisiana's nursing homes have been particularly leveled by coronavirus, a topic discussed by Governor John Bel Edwards and President Trump in April

Louisiana’s nursing homes have been particularly leveled by coronavirus, a topic discussed by Governor John Bel Edwards and President Trump in April 

About 40 percent of patients that tested positive for COVID-19 were admitted to the hospital. Eighty percent of them were black. 

Once again, 80 percent of patients who were so sick they had to be cared for in ICUs were black, and 81 percent who needed ventilators were black. 

Black patients admitted to hospitals had higher rates of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and chronic kidney disease – all chronic conditions linked to more severe illness in coronavirus patients. 

They also showed more markers of inflammation, which some studies have suggested African Americans are more genetically prone to, compared to white Americans of European descent. 

Inflammation is particularly worrisome in COVID-19, which triggers an inflammatory immune response that often goes off the rails, ultimately overwhelming and killing the patient.  

Ultimately, 326 patients died of coronavirus in the hospital, and more than 70 percent of them were black. 

However, the authors note that the mortality rate per case was actually higher among white patients.  The case-fatality rate for white patients was about 30 percent, while for black patients it was about 22 percent. 

Still, the findings closely match those found in other states like New York and Georgia, but is among the largest in the US to look at how black Americans are disproportionately affected by coronavirus. 

Its findings help to elucidate some – although not all – of the factors that contribute to higher death rates among black Americans with coronavirus and offers an insight into the additional risks faced by these patients, which may help doctors better treat their infections and complications. 

Source: Daily Mail | Health

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