ATLANTA (CN) — As Georgia continues its controversial charge forward to reopen businesses and end a statewide shutdown driven by the Covid-19 pandemic, a new study revealed Wednesday that black Georgians have been hit disproportionately hard by the virus.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers who surveyed eight Georgia hospitals found that in a sample of 305 hospitalized Covid-19 patients in Georgia, 247, or 81%, were black – a higher number than expected based on overall hospitalizations. Just 32, or 10%, were white.
The data in the study came from a sample of hospitalized adult patients in metropolitan Atlanta and southern Georgia.
Although the researchers acknowledge that the study was limited by time and geography, the results align with data showing black Americans are more likely to be affected by the novel coronavirus and the respiratory disease it causes.
“It is important to continue ongoing efforts to understand why black persons are disproportionately hospitalized for Covid-19, including the role of social and economic factors (including occupational exposures) in SARS-CoV-2 acquisition risk. It is critical that public health officials ensure that prevention activities prioritize communities and racial groups most affected by Covid-19,” Wednesday’s report states.
Patients were selected for the study from lists provided by hospitals out of a total of 698 patients who were hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 from March 1 through March 30. The median age of patients was 60.
About 73% of patients in the study had conditions considered high-risk for severe Covid-19. Diabetes was documented in 39% of patients but was not significantly more common in black patients than in nonblack patients.
Cardiovascular disease was documented in a quarter of patients, while 20% had chronic lung disease and 10% had asthma.
A quarter of the patients included in the study did not have any pre-existing conditions.
CDC research has shown that patients with chronic medical conditions are at higher risk of being hospitalized with Covid-19. Diabetes is twice as common among black Georgians compared to whites and black Georgia residents are more likely than whites to die of heart disease.
According to the study, the average hospital stay among the 305 patients lasted 8.5 days and the duration increased with age. Thirty-nine percent were admitted to the ICU at some point during their hospital stay.
A total of 48 patients died during the study.
Despite calls from public health officials and community leaders across the state to keep the state on lockdown, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has pushed ahead with plans to reopen businesses.
Black leaders have criticized Kemp’s decision, saying that their communities are on track to suffer most from the virus.
Last week, the Georgia NAACP sent a letter to Kemp asking him to rescind the order to reopen businesses.
“The Georgia NAACP is deeply concerned that African Americans are disproportionately dying from the coronavirus and are committed to partnering with every federal and state institution to develop solutions to minimize this disparity as much as possible,” the Reverend James “Major” Woodall, state president of the Georgia NAACP, wrote.
Georgia’s shelter-in-place order is set to expire on Thursday. Bowling alleys, tattoo parlors, gyms and salons were allowed to open last week. Movie theaters and restaurants were allowed to open Monday.
According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, the state has over 25,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 1,096 people have died from the disease as of Wednesday.