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Black and Hispanic communities in the U.S. have endured a disproportionate burden of COVID-19-related morbidity and mortality. Racial and ethnic health disparities such as these are frequently aggravated by inequitable access to healthcare resources in disadvantaged communities. Yet, no known studies have investigated disadvantaged communities' access to COVID-19-related healthcare resources. The current study accordingly examined racial and ethnic differences in (1) April 2020 COVID-19 total and positive viral test rates across 177 New York City (NYC) ZIP Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTA); and (2) November 2019–April 2020 licensed and intensive care unit (ICU) hospital bed access across 194 NYC ZCTAs. Pairwise analyses indicated higher COVID-19 total and positive test rates per 1000 persons in majority Black and Hispanic vs. majority White ZCTAs (CI [0.117, 4.55]; CI [2.53, 5.14]). Multiple linear regression analyses indicated that higher percentage of Black and Hispanic residents predicted more total COVID-19 tests per 1000 persons (p < 0.05). In contrast, majority Black and Hispanic ZCTAs had fewer licensed and ICU beds (CI [6.50, 124.25]; CI [0.69, 7.16]), with social disadvantage predicting lower licensed and ICU bed access per 1000 persons (p < 0.01). While news reports of inequitable access to COVID-19-related healthcare resources in ethnocultural minority communities have emerged, this is the first study to reveal that social disadvantage may be a major driver of hospital resource inequities in Black and Hispanic communities. Thus, it will be imperative to enact policies that ensure equitable allocation of healthcare resources to socially disadvantaged communities to address current and future public health crises.


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Preventive Medicine. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Preventive Medicine, volume 141, in 2020.

This scholarship is part of the Chapman University COVID-19 Archives.

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