Two new studies have revealed the impact the coronavirus pandemic had on death rates in certain U.S. communities and during its early days.
In one study, researchers from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health found that black women died of COVID-19 at far higher rates in Georgia and Michigan than white men did.
Another paper, from Merck Research Labs, found that nearly one in five Americans died of the virus during the first surge in April, then fell, only to rise to one in 10 in November.
It comes as the country recorded 2,570 COVID-19-related deaths on Wednesday, the highest figure seen since February 24, the analysis found.
A new study from Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health found that black women died of COVID-19 at 1.6 times the rate of white men in Georgia (left) and at 3.8 times the rate of white men in Michigan (right)
Another new study from Merck Research Labs found that mortality rates of COVID-19 patients were highest in April 2020 (diamond yellow line), when one out of every five patients died
On Wednesday, the U.S. recorded 2,570 COVID-19-related deaths, the highest figure seen since February 24
For the first study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, the Harvard team looked at COVID-19 mortality data through September 21, 2020, from Georgia and Michigan.
Researchers first looked at differences in death rates among the same race groups across different ages.
They found that, in both states, white men and black men were more likely to die from COVID-19 compared to white women and black women, respectively.
For example, in the 70-to-79 year age group in Georgia, 235 white men per 100,000 died of the virus, 50 percent higher than the 156 white women per 100,000.
Among the same age groups for African Americans, 675 men per 100,000 died, which is 85 percent higher than the 364 women per 100,000 who died.
Overall, in Georgia, the mortality rates were 53.2 per 100,000 for white men, 38.2 per 100,000 for white women, 128.5 per 100,000 for black men and 84.1 per 100,000 for black women.
When comparing different race groups, the researchers found black women died at 1.6 times the rate of white men in Georgia.
Next, when looking at Michigan, they found similar, that men died higher than women across all ages within the same race groups.
Results showed that the overall death rate was 39.1 per 100,000 for white men, 29.7 per 100,000 for white women, 254.6 per 100,000 for black men and 147.1 per 100,000 for black women.
In a cross comparison, they found that African American women died of coronavirus at 3.8 times the rate of white men in Michigan.
Co-author Tamara Rushovich, a PhD student at Harvard TH Chan, told the Huff Post that the findings were ‘consistent with what we would expect.’
Hospital rates for coronavirus patients were highest among those aged 65 and older for every month of the study period
In every age group, men diagnosed with COVID-19 were more likely to die than women, with an overall death rate of 12.5% compared to 9.6%
‘It’s always devastating to see such results and unfortunate that this is what we expect,’ she said.
‘Black women sit at the intersection of both gender and race oppression. So it wasn’t surprising to see these high rates among black women become more visible.’
Rushovich told the Huff Post that she believes part of the reason black women died at higher rates than white men is due to their jobs.
Many African-American women work in roles, such as nurses or health aides, that put them at a greater risk of exposure.
‘Because of the long history of racism and structural, gendered racism, I wouldn’t be surprised to see similar patterns that exist across the country, but there might be different degrees of magnitude,’ in each state, she said.
The two studies show inequities among racial groups and how mortality rates declined as doctors learned how to treat patients. Pictured: A casket carrying the body of Lola Simmons is placed into a hearse following the funeral service at the Denley Drive Missionary Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, July 30
In the second study, published in JAMA Network Open, the Merck team looked at patients who were hospitalized for coronavirus for at least one day between March 1 and November 21 at 209 hospitals.
Among about 503,000 admitted patients, more than 42,000 had a confirmed positive coronavirus test within seven days of being admitted to during hospitalization.
For every month of the study period, hospital admissions were highest in the age 65 and older group, from about 40 percent in March to nearly 60 percent in November.
They were also lowest in the age 18-to-49 group, aside from June and July, when rates briefly surpassed the 50-to-64 year old group.
When looking at in-hospital mortality rates, COVID-19 male patients were more likely die than female patients, 12.5 percent to 9.6 percent, and across every age group.
Results also found that morality rates among hospitalized coronavirus patients increase from 10.6 percent in March to 19.7 percent in April.
That means that during the first surge, one in five of all hospitalized patients died.
Rates then declined, rising back up to 9.3 percent in November, during the beginning of the third surge.
For every months, rates were highest among the aged 75 and older group, peaking at 35 percent in April – meaning one out of every three patients died.
‘This large, national study is consistent with recently published smaller studies demonstrating decreases in in-hospital mortality and COVID-19 risk-adjusted mortality rates,’ the authors wrote.
‘Reasons for decreases in mortality since the start of the pandemic may include increased clinical experience in caring for and ventilating patients and use of prone positioning, systemic corticosteroids, and remdesivir.’