This report was prepared to shed light on disparities in COVID-19 impacts across gender, age, racial, and other relevant demographic groups. Research has shown that health outcomes are closely related to socioeconomic factors, called social determinants of health. Prior research by The Institute found that this relationship between socioeconomic factors and health outcomes was at least as strong in Northeastern Pennsylvania as it is statewide. As such, there is reason to believe COVID-19 would have disparate impacts across groups, especially as pre-existing health conditions have been widely understood as being associated with higher rates of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recognized that these disparities are occurring, and have identified several factors contributing to this increased risk:
1. Discrimination, in systems such as health care, housing, education, criminal justice, and finance
2. Healthcare access and utilization, such as disparities in insurance coverage and barriers to getting care such as transportation, child care, language barriers, or historical or current discrimination
3. Occupation, including some racial and ethnic minority group overrepresentation in certain essential work settings
4. Educational, income, and wealth gaps
5. Housing, including overcrowded living situations and greater risk of eviction and homelessness
This report presents statewide data on COVID-19 cases and deaths by age, gender, race, and Hispanic/Latino ethnicity to understand how these groups vary in burden of COVID-19 infections.
Furthermore, the secondary economic impacts of the pandemic can also be considered for demographic groups. While many past recessions have had disparities in their impact on different populations across racial, educational, or geographic lines, the current economic environment has many complicating factors that could exacerbate these differences. Examples include highly disparate impacts of mitigation efforts on different industries and impact of virtual schooling on workers’ childcare needs.
Having an understanding of which groups may be disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 disease itself or economic impacts of the pandemic will help communities respond appropriately, particularly when historically marginalized or vulnerable populations face worse impacts.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been signs of disparities in COVID-19 infections across demographic groups.