Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Incidence of SARS-CoV-2 Infection, 22 US States and DC, January 1–October 1, 2020

NaTasha D. Hollis; Wen Li; Miriam E. Van Dyke; Gibril J. Njie; Heather M. Scobie; Erin M. Parker; Ana Penman-Aguilar; Kristie E.N. Clarke


Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2021;27(5):1477-1481. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


We examined disparities in cumulative incidence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 by race/ethnicity, age, and sex in the United States during January 1–October 1, 2020. Hispanic/Latino and non-Hispanic Black, American Indian/Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islander persons had a substantially higher incidence of infection than non-Hispanic White persons.


Health disparities among racial/ethnic minority groups in the United States are closely related to structural inequities in social determinants of health. Some racial/ethnic minority groups have disproportionate rates of underlying conditions that increase the risk for severe illness from coronavirus disease (COVID-19).[1,2] Certain groups are overrepresented in occupations that require public contact, have crowded conditions, or are unamenable to telework, increasing the risk for exposure to severe acute respiratory infection coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19.[3,4] Structural inequities in housing, education, wealth, and healthcare access also increase disparities in infection and COVID-related illness and death.[5–8]

We conducted an intersectional analysis by race/ethnicity, age, and sex to identify disparities in SARS-CoV-2 incidence using data from multiple US jurisdictions. Monitoring these disparities is critical for guiding action to reduce health inequities.