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Race, income inequality fuel COVID disparities in US counties

A study today in JAMA Network Open details US county-level COVID-19 infection and death inequities based on racial composition and income in the first 200 days of the pandemic, adding to mounting evidence of disproportionate burdens among racial minorities and those of lower income levels.

Researchers from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and DePaul University analyzed data from seven US agencies and organizations on all but 1 of 3,142 counties in 50 states and Washington, D.C. from Jan 22 to Aug 8. They found that a 1.0% increase in a county’s income inequality was associated with a 2.0% increase in COVID-19 infection and a 3.0% rise in related deaths.

An increase of 1.0% in a county’s black population was associated with a 1.9% increase in coronavirus infection and a 2.6% rise in related deaths. Similarly, a 1.0% increase in a county’s Hispanic population was linked to a 2.4% rise in infections and a 1.9% increase in related deaths.

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