Coronavirus Is Statistically More Prevalent Among Racial Minorities In Colorado

Updated 5:55 p.m.

The COVID-19 outbreak is disproportionately prevalent among African American, Hispanic and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander people in Colorado, according to new data from the state.

For example, while Latino people make up about 22 percent of the state’s population, they are about 28 percent of its COVID-19 cases. While black people are about 4 percent of the population, they represent about 7 percent of cases.

The differences for all three groups are statistically significant, according to state officials. The effect was the opposite for white and Asian people, who made up a disproportionately small portion of cases.

The racial breakdown of coronavirus cases in Colorado.

In a press conference, Gov. Jared Polis said that there was little the state could do to specifically help various demographic groups.

“You can’t say we’re stopping it for Hispanics but not for white people or for blacks and non-Hispanics,” he said.

The surefire way to slow the disease for all groups is statewide social distancing, he said.

The causes of the differences, he said, are deeper-seated.

"Scientists will comment on what the meaning is,” he said. “It could be a proxy for economic disparities, it could be a proxy for health."

Later, the state’s public health officials got more specific.

“There have been generations of institutionalized barriers to things like preventive medical care, healthy food, safe and stable housing, quality education, reliable transportation, and clean air. Research shows that these types of factors are the most predictive of health outcomes,” said Jill Hunsaker-Ryan, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. 

“There is much to be learned from this disaster, and the uneven effects of COVID-19 on different communities will perhaps be one of the most profound lessons," Hunsaker-Ryan continued. "It’s apparent now more than ever why we must bridge these inequities and even more closely track the outcomes of COVID-19 by race and ethnicity.”

The state has released demographic data for about 75 percent of COVID-19 cases.

Polis provided an initial update Monday afternoon on the state statistics for the pandemic: 7,684 known positive cases, 1,472 have been hospitalized and that the state has passed another threshold in deaths. There have now been 304 deaths in the state due to COVID-19.

"We are seeing a leveling off," Polis said, but the governor noted Colorado will still see some difficult days ahead. "I want to thank all of you for staying home except when you absolutely have to go out."