Hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 continue to be more prevalent among minorities in Minnesota after four months of the pandemic, which has now caused 44,347 known illnesses and 1,526 deaths in the state.
The latest totals included the addition by the Minnesota Department of Health on Thursday of 611 lab-confirmed cases and eight deaths.
The rate of cases alone is much higher among people in Minnesota who are Black and Hispanic, which health officials attribute partly to the higher prevalence of minorities working in lower-wage jobs and being unable to work from home during the pandemic.
A new weekly state health roundup, released on Thursday, shows a COVID-19 hospitalization rate for Black people of 313 per 100,000 in Minnesota. That is more than 10 times greater than the hospitalization rate for white people of 25 per 100,000. The Hispanic rate is 311 per 100,000.
Health officials believe that higher rates of diabetes, asthma and other chronic diseases among Minnesota’s minority groups explain some of the disparities. More than nine in 10 deaths from COVID-19 in Minnesota are either in people 65 or older, or who have underlying health conditions. All eight of the deaths reported Thursday involved people 60 or older, and half involved residents of long-term care or assisted-living facilities.
The COVID-19 death rate for Black people in Minnesota is 106 per 100,000, compared to the white rate of 23 per 100,000.
The latest COVID-19 data for Minnesota also shows a gender disparity in cases that isn’t found in other states. Among all known cases, 22,259 have been found through diagnostic testing in women while 21,400 have been found in men.
Some of the disparity can be explained by focused diagnostic testing among health care workers, who are more likely to be female. There is little difference in the number of deaths between men and women, but 60% of the patients with COVID-19 who needed hospital intensive care were men.
State health officials suspect that gender disparity in intensive care is due to rates of obesity and other chronic conditions in men that could be causing more severe COVID-19 symptoms and breathing problems.
Daily case counts have increased slightly since mid-June, largely due to rising infection numbers in young adults and teenagers. The median age of COVID-19 cases in Minnesota has now dropped to 37.4 years.
State health officials are concerned that this spread of COVID-19 could eventually result in more cases among older and sicker Minnesotans, which could then mean more hospitalizations and deaths.
Hospitalizations for COVID-19 remain at the lowest levels since mid-April for now, though. As of Thursday, there were 249 Minnesotans who were hospitalized for COVID-19, including 103 who needed intensive care.