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Kumar A, Roy I, Karmarkar AM, Erler KS, Rudolph JL, Baldwin JA, Rivera-Hernandez M. Shifting US Patterns of COVID-19 Mortality by Race and Ethnicity From June-December 2020. Journal of The American Medical Directors Association. 2021 May 1; 22(5):966-970.e3.
OBJECTIVES: The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected racial and ethnic minorities in the United States and has been devastating for residents of nursing homes (NHs). However, evidence on racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19-related mortality rates within NHs and how that has changed over time has been limited. This study examines the impact of a high proportion of minority residents in NHs on COVID-19-related mortality rates over a 30-week period. DESIGN: Longitudinal study. SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Nursing Home COVID-19 Public Use File data from 50 states from June 1, 2020, to December 27, 2020. METHODS: We linked data from 11,718 NHs to (1) Nursing Home Compare data, (2) the Long-Term Care: Facts on Care in the U.S., and (3) US county-level data on COVID cases and deaths. Our primary independent variable was proportion of minority residents (blacks and Hispanics) in NHs and its association with mortality rate over time. RESULTS: During the first 6 weeks from June 1, 2020, NHs with a higher proportion of black residents reported more COVID-19 deaths per 1000 followed by NHs with a higher proportion of Hispanic residents. Between 7 and 12 weeks, NHs with a higher proportion of Hispanic residents reported more deaths per 1000, followed by NHs with a higher proportion of black residents. However, after 23 weeks (mid-November 2020), NHs serving a higher proportion of white residents reported more deaths per 1000 than NHs serving a high proportion of black and Hispanic residents. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: The disparities in COVID-19-related mortality for nursing homes serving minority residents is evident for the first 12 weeks of our study period. Policy interventions and the equitable distribution of vaccine are required to mitigate the impact of systemic racial injustice on health outcomes of people of color residing in NHs.