Association of RACE and ethnicity with covid-19 test positivity and hospitalization is mediated by socioeconomic factors

Hayley B. Gershengorn, Samira Patel, Bhavarth Shukla, Prem R. Warde, Monisha Bhatia, Dipen Parekh, Tanira Ferreira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Rationale: Black race and Hispanic ethnicity are associated with increased risks for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection and severity. It is purported that socioeconomic factors may drive this association, but data supporting this assertion are sparse. Objectives: To evaluate whether socioeconomic factors mediate the association of race/ethnicity with COVID-19 incidence and outcomes. Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of adults tested for (cohort 1) or hospitalized with (cohort 2) COVID-19 between March 1, 2020, and July 23, 2020, at the University of Miami Hospital and Clinics. Our primary exposure was race/ ethnicity. We considered socioeconomic factors as potential mediators of our exposure's association with outcomes. We used standard statistics to describe our cohorts and multivariable regression modeling to identify associations of race/ethnicity with our primary outcomes, one for each cohort, of test positivity (cohort 1) and hospital mortality (cohort 2). We performed a mediation analysis to see whether household income, population density, and household size mediated the association of race/ ethnicity with outcomes. Results: Our cohorts included 15,473 patients tested (29.0% non- Hispanic White, 48.1% Hispanic White, 15.0% non-Hispanic Black, 1.7% Hispanic Black, and 1.6% other) and 295 patients hospitalized (9.2% non-Hispanic White, 56.9% Hispanic White, 21.4% non- Hispanic Black, 2.4% Hispanic Black, and 10.2% other). Among those tested, 1,256 patients (8.1%) tested positive, and, of the hospitalized patients, 47 (15.9%) died. After adjustment for demographics, race/ethnicity was associated with test positivity- odds-ratio (95% confidence interval [CI]) versus non-Hispanic White for Non-Hispanic Black: 3.21 (2.60-3.96), Hispanic White: 2.72 (2.28-3.26), and Hispanic Black: 3.55 (2.33-5.28). Population density mediated this association (percentage mediated, 17%; 95% CI, 11-31%), as did median income (27%; 95% CI, 18-52%) and household size (20%; 95% CI, 12-45%). There was no association between race/ethnicity and mortality, although this analysis was underpowered. Conclusions: Black race and Hispanic ethnicity are associated with an increased odds of COVID-19 positivity. This association is substantially mediated by socioeconomic factors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1326-1334
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of the American Thoracic Society
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Coronavirus
  • Ethnic groups
  • Incidence
  • Race factors
  • Socioeconomic factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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