Blacks and Latinx are disproportionately affected by Coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) and experience higher mortality rates than Whites and Asians in the USA. Such racial disparities, in Covid-19 testing, cases, and mortality are visible in Connecticut too. Recently, excess deaths have become an important consideration in news reports and academic research. However, data on racial differences in excess death is limited.
This study examines racial/ethnic differences in excess deaths in the state of Connecticut during the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is a cross-sectional epidemiological study to estimate excess deaths by racial/ethnic status utilizing mortality data during the peak months of Covid-19 infections from March 1 to June 30, 2020, in Connecticut. The following assumption is applied: expected non-Covid-19 deaths from March 1 to June 30, 2020, are equal to the number of deaths occurring during the period of March 1 to June 30, 2019. Race/ethnicity are defined as Non-Hispanic White, Non-Hispanic Black, and Latinx. Descriptive statistics and rates with 95% confidence intervals are presented. Chi-square analyses are performed where applicable.
All deaths in Connecticut from March 1 to June 30, 2020.
Covid-19 and race/ethnicity
From March 1 to June 30, 2020, a total of 14,226 all-cause deaths occurred including 1514 Blacks (10.6%), 1095 Latinx (7.7%), and 11,617 Whites (81.7%). This represented a 74% increase in mortality for Blacks; 63% for Latinx, and 30% for Whites. In addition, 42.70% of the deaths in Blacks were attributed to Covid-19; 38.5% for Latinx, and 23.0% for Whites (p<0.001). Covid-19 deaths accounted for over 90% of the excess deaths in Blacks and Hispanics. In contrast, in Whites, Covid-19 deaths exceeded the number of excess deaths by 353 cases (113.2%), indicating that some Whites may have died from other underlined health conditions with a positive Covid-19 diagnosis. Furthermore, there was an increase in undetermined deaths in 2020, which accounted for 10.8% of deaths in Blacks, 13% in Latinx, and 6.2% of deaths in Whites.
Conclusions and Relevance
Excess deaths in Blacks and Latinx were found above the numbers of deaths determined to have occurred due to Covid-19. The fact that a large number of undetermined deaths were found for Blacks and Latinx individuals, and testing rates for Blacks and Latinx individuals (as determined by positivity rates) were lacking during this period strongly suggests, these excess deaths were Covid-19-related deaths.
The study findings indicate that Black and Latinx COVID-19-related deaths may be underreported in this pandemic. We advocate for targeted strategies that increase testing capacity, treatment, and vaccine availability in Black and Latinx communities.