Understanding Drivers of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Racial Disparities: A Population-Level Analysis of COVID-19 Testing among Black and White Populations

Aaloke Mody, Kristin Pfeifauf, Cory Bradley, Branson Fox, Matifadza G. Hlatshwayo, Will Ross, Vetta Sanders-Thompson, Karen Joynt Maddox, Mat Reidhead, Mario Schootman, William G. Powderly, Elvin H. Geng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Disparities in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing-the pandemic's most critical but limited resource-may be an important but modifiable driver of COVID-19 inequities. Methods: We analyzed data from the Missouri State Department of Health and Senior Services on all COVID-19 tests conducted in the St Louis and Kansas City regions. We adapted a well-established tool for measuring inequity-the Lorenz curve-to compare COVID-19 testing rates per diagnosed case among Black and White populations. Results: Between 14/3/2020 and 15/9/2020, 606 725 and 328 204 COVID-19 tests were conducted in the St Louis and Kansas City regions, respectively. Over time, Black individuals consistently had approximately half the rate of testing per case than White individuals. In the early period (14/3/2020 to 15/6/2020), zip codes in the lowest quartile of testing rates accounted for only 12.1% and 8.8% of all tests in the St Louis and Kansas City regions, respectively, even though they accounted for 25% of all cases in each region. These zip codes had higher proportions of residents who were Black, without insurance, and with lower median incomes. These disparities were reduced but still persisted during later phases of the pandemic (16/6/2020 to 15/9/2020). Last, even within the same zip code, Black residents had lower rates of tests per case than White residents. Conclusions: Black populations had consistently lower COVID-19 testing rates per diagnosed case than White populations in 2 Missouri regions. Public health strategies should proactively focus on addressing equity gaps in COVID-19 testing to improve equity of the overall response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E2921-E2931
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Volume73
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19 testing
  • Lorenz curve
  • inequity
  • racial disparities
  • structural racism

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