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Study: Hispanic/Latino children up to 8x more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19

New CDC study used data from 14 states, including Ohio
Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 7:53 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - As some kids gear up to head back to school in person, a new CDC study shows some sobering statistics for minority groups. The data suggests Hispanic and Latino children are up to 8 times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 compared to their white classmates -- and 5 times as likely for black children.

Dr. John Barnard, Chief of Pediatrics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, explained it in Tuesday’s press conference with Governor Mike DeWine: “What we see in Ohio is seen nationally -- underrepresented minorities are much more likely to test positive, and much more likely to bear the burden of complications of the disease -- including hospitalizations and even ICU stays.”

Some pediatricians say it’s a new perspective on a continued problem.

“Just as we’ve seen in adults, this pandemic has shed additional light on some of the disparities that happen for ethnic minorities,” says Dr. Sara Bode, a pediatrician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in partnership with Mercy Health Children’s Hospital in Toledo.

Healthcare access plays a major role, especially with a lack of personal transportation to get to those preventative visits. “If you have parents who are working and using public transportation for their own needs,” says Dr. Bode, “then what is the ability to balance that with the children’s needs to getting to those appointments? It’s those preventative healthcare visits where you’re making sure [children] are maintaining healthy habits, good development -- all the things that make it so when you do get sick, you’re able to be well and healthy enough to get through that illness easier.”

Poor housing conditions with mold and dust can also play an indirect role in how well children fight off the virus. As Dr. Bode explains: “When you have a child that is Latino/Hispanic or other ethnic minorities, they may already have a higher disease burden -- such as asthma -- so when they contract COVID-19, they may be more likely to have a more severe disease response.”

Dr. Bode stresses “equality versus equity”, acknowledging some families simply need more support to receive the same level of medical safety and treatment: “It means improvement in our transportation, it means ensuring Medicaid for these families, it’s looking at our housing conditions... it’s all those social programs that we have which support kids.”

In Tuesday’s press conference, Governor Mike DeWine said there is a renewed effort to tackle the issue, with more details to come later this week, saying in part, “We continue to have disparities in health based on race. We all have a moral obligation to change that.”

The CDC study released Friday also found that, while adults were about 20 times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19, about 1 in 3 children were admitted to ICU. The data was collected from 14 states -- including Ohio -- from March through July.

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