Study: Black Michiganders experience worse outcomes after COVID-19 recovery

By: - February 3, 2021 2:55 pm

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Black COVID-19 survivors in Michigan are experiencing disproportionately worse outcomes than their white counterparts, according to a new research study conducted by the University of Michigan and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

So far, a total of 637 surveys from COVID-19 survivors have been conducted. Key health, socioeconomic and care access findings from those include:

  • 73% of Black respondents reported severe or very severe symptoms (versus 61% of white respondents)
  • 45% of Black respondents required an overnight hospital stay (versus 28% of white respondents)
  • 26% of Black respondents reported being unable to pay important bills like mortgage, rent or utilities since the start of the pandemic (versus 10% of white respondents)
  • About 9% of Black respondents believed their experiences seeking health care were worse than people from other races; 19% of white respondents believed their experiences were better than people from other races
  • 23% of Black respondents were afraid to disclose their COVID-19 status to their friends or family (versus 10% of white respondents)
COVID-19 cases and cases per million by race | DHHS chart

“Since the start of the pandemic, Black and Brown communities have faced devastating and disproportionate harm,” said Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health for DHHS. “From health to financial security, this study shows minority populations experienced more challenges than other populations. MDHHS will continue to work with partners to promote equity and eliminate these disparities in health care access and deaths.”

As of Tuesday, there are 562,510 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Michigan and 14,672 deaths. 481,801 Michiganders have recovered from the virus as of Friday.

In terms of both cases per million and deaths per million — particularly the latter — Michigan’s African American population has experienced the brunt of COVID-19 in the state. 

The partnership between U of M’s School of Public Health and DHHS is part of the Michigan COVID-19 Recovery Surveillance Study. Additional racial and ethnic groups are expected to be added to the reports as the study continues.

COVID-19 deaths and deaths per million by race | DHHS chart

“We know that Black Michiganders, especially early in the pandemic, suffered disproportionately from COVID-19 compared to white Michiganders, in terms of infection and death,” said lead investigator Nancy Fleischer, associate professor of epidemiology at the U of M School of Public Health.

“What this research shows is that Black Michiganders have also had more severe illness, had worse experiences with the health care system and suffered more from the economic consequences of the pandemic than white Michiganders. We can use this information to help reduce racial disparities from the impact of COVID-19 in our state,” Fleischer added.

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, Native issues and criminal justice for the Advance. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or spending time with her cats, she loves art and design, listening to music, playing piano, enjoying good food and being out in nature (especially Up North).