Study: Black Michiganders with COVID-19 suffered worse health & economic outcomes

Posted at 12:12 PM, Feb 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-03 12:12:10-05

(WXYZ) — Black Michiganders who survived COVID-19 had worse outcomes in several different areas compared to their white counterparts, according to new research from the University of Michigan.

The university's School of Public Health and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services are conducting research through the Michigan COVID-19 Recovery Surveillance Study. The goal is to help inform future responses to public health crises and health equity efforts.

Related: State leaders say progress has been made in racial disparities in COVID-19 outcomes

Survivors who are Black had worse outcomes when it comes to care access, recovery, and social and economic factors.

In all, there were 637 surveyed conducted from COVID-19 survivors in Michigan.

More Black people than white people reported severe or very severe symptoms. 45% of those who are Black required an overnight stay in the hospital compared to 28% who were white.

On top of that, more Black respondents to the survey said they've had more social stresses from the pandemic, with 26% unable to pay bills vs. 10% of white people.

Also, 23% of Black respondents were afraid to disclose their COVID-19 status to friends or family compared to 10% of white respondents.

"We know that Black Michiganders, especially early in the pandemic, suffered disproportionately from COVID-19 compared to white Michiganders, in terms of infection and death," lead investigator Nancy Fleischer said in a release. She's an associate professor of epidemiology at the U-M School of Public Health.

"Since the start of the pandemic, Black and Brown communities have faced devastating and disproportionate harm," MDHHS Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun added in the release. "From health to financial security, this study shows minority populations experienced more challenges than other populations. MDHHS will continue to work with partners to promote equity and eliminate these disparities in health care access and deaths."

Earlier this year, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities.

State leaders say Michigan is making progress with improving COVID-19 outcomes in minority communities. In the last two weeks alone, the death rates among African Americans have gotten significantly better.

African American residents make up 15% of Michigan’s population. But at the start of the pandemic, African Americans represented 29.4% of the coronavirus cases and 40.7% of the deaths.

In September the Governor and the Lt. Governor say their Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparity is seeing an improvement in those numbers.

In the first two weeks of September, African American residents accounted for just 8.2% of the cases, and 9.9% of the deaths.

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