The coronavirus pandemic continues to exact a disproportionate toll on Colorado’s communities of color, new data released Thursday by the state Health Department shows.
Hispanic Coloradans, who make up 22% of the state’s population, have accounted for roughly 38% of the state’s COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Black people make up almost 5% of the state’s population, but account for nearly 10% of the COVID-19 hospitalizations and 7% of deaths, according to the data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
White Coloradans are proportionately underrepresented in case counts, hospitalizations and deaths.
“This hospitalization data is another example of how historical inequities negatively impact health outcomes,” CDPHE Executive Director Jill Hunsaker Ryan said in a statement accompanying the data release. “That fact is especially apparent during emergencies like the pandemic.”
The racial disparities in COVID-19’s impact appear to have shrunk over time. In May, more than half of the people hospitalized with COVID-19 were Hispanic, CDPHE found. And, when the agency first began tracking demographic data of coronavirus patients in March, it found then that more than 14% of hospitalized patients were Black.
The data released by CDPHE comes as the spread of coronavirus and hospitalizations are trending downward in Colorado. Through Thursday, 146 people were hospitalized because of the disease, down from 275 on July 20 and a pandemic peak of 888 on April 14.
The number of people testing positive for coronavirus was 2% on Sunday. That’s among its lowest rate since COVID-19 testing began in Colorado in early March.
Coronavirus has been blamed for causing 1,815 deaths in Colorado — a number roughly equivalent to the population of Idaho Springs.
More than 54,000 people have tested positive for the disease, though health officials believe tens of thousands more have contracted the virus but either didn’t show symptoms or weren’t tested because of a lack of testing supplies.
The virus has hit men in Colorado slightly harder than women, according to the CDPHE data released Thursday. Among hospitalized patients, 53% have been men and 47% have been women. Men make up a tiny bit more of Colorado’s overall population than women, according to the State Demography Office, but the proportion is still roughly 50/50.
About half of those hospitalized have been age 60 or older, while slightly more than 30% have been under the age of 50. Children and teens made up less than 3% of hospitalizations.
The state data shows that about a third of the people who were hospitalized due to coronavirus-related symptoms spent time in the intensive-care unit. Among those who did, 17% died. One-fifth of those who were hospitalized required a ventilator.
CDPHE plans to publish the data in more depth on its website on Friday.
Colorado Sun staff writer Jesse Paul contributed to this report.