Profound racial disparities in COVID-19 associated hospitalizations in rural Southwest Georgia

Rilee Racine, Priyank Shah, Justin Xavier Moore, Jameson Kenerly, Jack Owens, David C. Hess

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is responsible for one of the largest public health crises the United States has seen to date. This study explores the outcomes of African American and non-African American COVID-19-positive patients hospitalized in rural Southwest Georgia to identify differences in morbidity and mortality between the groups. Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort analysis among adults aged ≥18 years admitted with COVID-19 between March 2, 2020 and June 17, 2020 at Phoebe Putney Health System. Data on demographics, comorbidities, presenting symptoms, and hospital course were obtained. Patients were divided into two groups: African Americans and non-African Americans. We examined differences in patient characteristics between groups using chi-square tests for categorical variables, t-test for parametric continuous variables, and Wilcoxon rank-sum tests for non-parametric continuous variables. Statistical Analysis Software (SAS) version 9.4 was used for statistical analysis. Results: Among 710 patients, median age was 63 years, 43.8% were males, and 83.3% were African Americans. African Americans had higher prevalence of obesity and hypertension, were more likely to present with fever, and present with longer duration of symptoms prior to presentation. In-hospital mortality was similar between the groups, as was need for mechanical ventilation, ICU care, and new dialysis. African Americans were more likely to be discharged home compared to non-African Americans. Conclusions: There was no difference in in-hospital mortality; however, African Americans had disproportionately higher hospitalizations, likely to significantly increase the morbidity burden in this population. Urgent measures are needed to address this profound racial disparity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of the Medical Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • African American
  • COVID-19
  • Morbidity
  • Mortality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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