Covid deaths higher for minority kids and young adults, study finds


SACRAMENTO (CN) — More than three-quarters of all coronavirus deaths in children and adults under 21 were among minorities, according to a study released in September by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study used federal statistics indicating 391,814 cases of coronavirus cases in people under 21 years old from February to July.

At least 121 of them have died from Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus, the statistics show. Of those, 45 percent were Hispanic and 29 percent were Black. Native Americans accounted for 4 percent, the study noted.

Those groups only account for 41 percent of the U.S. population, despite making up a combined 78 percent of coronavirus deaths among those under 21. By comparison, White children and young adults accounted for 14 percent of the 121 deaths even though Whites make up about 70 percent of the population.

“Among infants, children, and adolescents hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 and cases of [multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children], persons from racial and ethnic minority groups are overrepresented,” the researchers wrote.

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C, is a rare condition associated with the coronavirus in children in which body parts become inflamed, including internal organs.

“These racial/ethnic groups are also disproportionately represented among essential workers unable to work from their homes, resulting in higher risk for exposure to Covid-19 with potential secondary transmission among household members, including infants, children, adolescents, and young adults,” researchers added.

The study cites crowded living conditions, wealth and educational gaps and racial discrimination as contributors to the disparities.

Deaths from coronavirus are also exacerbated by lack of affordable health care and paid sick leave for parents, according to the CDC.  

Three-quarters of those who died had at least one underlying medical condition, the study found, such as asthma, obesity or heart problems.

The study was conducted by CDC staff and officials from dozens of state health departments. Data came from all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Researchers conceded that the data could be limited due to unreported cases and deaths.

Coronavirus symptoms are typically milder in children, but the report shows complications still occur and seem to increase with age. Of the reported deaths, 10 percent were infants, 20 percent were ages 1 to 9 and 70 percent were ages 10 to 20. The highest percentage of deaths came from ages 18-20.

The researchers called on health professionals to tailor safety messages specifically to these groups.

“Infants, children, adolescents, and young adults, particularly those from racial and ethnic minority groups at higher risk, those with underlying medical conditions, and their caregivers, need clear, consistent, and developmentally, linguistically, and culturally appropriate Covid-19 prevention messages,” the study said.

The CDC report mirrors a similar study conducted last month by researchers at the Children’s National Hospital.

Dr. Monika Goyal and her colleagues looked at data collected from a Covid-19 testing site affiliated with the hospital and found infection rates dramatically different among racial and ethnic groups. Of the 1,000 tested patients, non-Hispanic White children accounted for 7 percent of positive cases while 30 percent of Black children and 46 percent of Hispanic children tested positive.

“Some possible reasons may be socioeconomic factors that increase exposure, differences in access to health care and resources, as well as structural racism,” Goyal said in the report.