Home/Articles/COVID-19 death data shows racial disparities during the pandemic
Over one million people have died in the US from COVID-19 since the pandemic began, but the virus didn’t impact all Americans equally. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has collected more than two years of data on COVID-19 deaths broken down by age, racial, and ethnic groups. Analyzing the data paints a comprehensive picture of racial disparities related to the pandemic.
As of June 22, 2022, among racial and ethnic groups, the non-Hispanic white, Black, and Native American populations had a higher share of COVID-19 deaths than their share of the population. Non-Hispanic white people accounted for 65% of COVID-19 deaths, nearly five percentage points higher than their share of the population.
The non-Hispanic white population accounts for nearly two-thirds of COVID-19 deaths but makes up less than 60% of the population.
The gap in deaths for non-Hispanic Black and Native American people was higher than for any other groups. The Black and Native American share of COVID-19 deaths is 13% and 57% higher than their population shares. Non-Hispanic Native Americans died of COVID-19 more disproportionately than any other racial or ethnic group.
Native Americans died of COVID-19 at disproportionately higher rates than other racial or ethnic groups.
While non-Hispanic white people have a higher share of COVID-19 deaths, that’s mostly explained by age. With 63% of COVID-19 deaths occurring with those 65 and over, older people were far more likely to die of COVID-19 than younger people. Older people are also likelier to be non-Hispanic white than the overall population.
Looking at COVID-19 death data by age from the CDC, non-Hispanic white people accounted for a smaller share of deaths than their population share in all age groups. Non-Hispanic white people accounted for 78% of the 258,000 COVID-19 deaths of people 85 and older, or slightly smaller than their share of the population in that age group. In younger age groups, the gap was far more pronounced. Non-Hispanic white people accounted for 38% of the 28,000 COVID-19 deaths of people aged 35 to 44, nearly 19 percentage points lower than the non-Hispanic white population share in the age group.
In all age groups, the non-Hispanic white population was less likely to die of COVID-19 than people of other racial or ethnic groups.
As a result, other racial and ethnic groups were disproportionately more likely to die of COVID-19, though the magnitude of those differences depended on the age range. Excluding the non-Hispanic Asian, white, and the Other categories, every other racial and ethnic group had disproportionately higher shares of COVID-19 deaths than their populations, regardless of age group. For example, Hispanic people accounted for a third of COVID-19 deaths aged 35 to 44, despite making up 21% of that population.
The racial and ethnic gap in COVID-19 deaths widens among younger age groups.
Limited hospitalization data from the CDC shows that non-Hispanic Native Americans were three times more likely to be hospitalized than non-Hispanic white Americans. The risk of hospitalization of Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black people was more than double that of the white population. The CDC also has limited data on cases, showing that the Native American and Hispanic populations were 50% more likely to test positive than the white population.
Explore case and death data since the start of the pandemic on the cases and deaths tracker.