Dept. of Health, Disease Modeling reports show communities of color affected most by COVID-19

Washington allows third ‘X’ option on birth certificates

OLYMPIA, Wash. — New reports from the State Department of Health (DOH) and the Institute for Disease Modeling show that COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting communities of color.

The report looks through confirmed cases, hospitalizations and deaths by race, ethnicity and primary language spoken, starting from the first COVID case in Washington.

According to the data, Hispanic and Pacific Islander people have COVID-19 case rates nine times higher than White people. Additionally, hospitalization rates are seven times higher for Hispanic people and ten times higher for Pacific Islanders.

RELATED: Health data shows Spokane County’s Pacific Islanders disproportionately affected by COVID-19

Case and hospitalization rates for Black people, Native Americans and Native Alaskans are three times higher than White people.

“We know the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the health inequities historically marginalized and oppressed communities already experience,” said state health officer Dr. Kathy Lofy. “These data are deeply concerning and underline the critical need to address the COVID-19 impacts we’re currently seeing by prioritizing outreach, testing, education and related materials for disproportionately impacted communities in ways that are culturally and linguistically appropriate and accessible.”

Concerning deaths rates compared to White people, they are three times higher for Hispanic and Pacific Islander people, twice the rate for Native American and Native Alaskans, and 50 percent higher for Black and Asian people.

DOH reports that while COVID-19 is represented across racial and ethnic groups, it is not confined to certain areas—such as rural, urban or suburban areas.

The Department has also been looking at data of high rates of hospitalizations in non-English-speaking communities, which they say suggests that they could be facing more exposures to COVID-19 or barriers to quality health care.

They are also keenly aware of the rise in cases among young people.

RELATED: Young people now hardest hit by COVID-19 in Spokane County

“Public health interventions worked early in the COVID-19 epidemic to control cases, but communities of color experienced less of that benefit,” said IDM research economist Dr. Marita Zimmermann. “Now more and more young people of color in Washington are getting infected. COVID-19 exploits the inequities in health and wellbeing in our society, and this analysis sheds light on the people most in need of protection.”