Hispanics more likely than whites to suffer severe COVID-19 symptoms, have longer hospital stays, experience increased social stressors due to illness; 25% of Hispanics reported severe COVID-19 symptoms compared to 11% of white respondents: study

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March 15, 2022 (press release) –

Hispanic Michiganders were more likely than white Michiganders to suffer severe COVID-19 symptoms and have longer hospital stays, according to a new U-M study.

Hispanic Michiganders were more likely than white Michiganders to suffer severe COVID-19 symptoms, have longer hospital stays and experience increased social stressors—being unable to pay rent, buy food or arrange child care, according to a new University of Michigan study.

The findings shine a light into the health inequalities that were already observed by an earlier analysis comparing non-Hispanic Black and non-Hispanic white adults, says Luis Zavala Arciniega, the main author of the most recent analysis from the Michigan COVID-19 Recovery Surveillance Study.

“Our findings corroborate some of the anecdotal evidence we’ve heard about since the beginning of the pandemic, and I hope they will help to guide future response efforts to reduce racial/ethnic disparities in this and other related health outcomes in Michigan,” said Zavala, a doctoral candidate at the U-M’s School of Public Health. 

For their study, researchers reached out to 6,000 adults in Michigan with COVID-19 onset on or before Nov. 15, 2020. A total of 1,839 online and phone surveys were completed. Responses were weighted to be representative of adults with COVID-19 onset in Michigan with respect to age, sex and geographic location. In all, 67% were white, 10% were Hispanic and the rest were from other racial/ethnic groups. 

Researchers found that: 

  • Twenty-five percent of Hispanic respondents reported very severe symptoms, compared to 11% of white respondents.
  • Hispanic respondents were nearly twice as likely as white respondents to have a hospital stay longer than one week.
  • One in 10 Hispanics reported that their COVID-19 testing or treatment made them feel upset due to how they were treated based on their race, compared to 1 in 100 whites.
  • More Hispanic than white respondents took a sick leave, but paid sick leave was less common among Hispanic adults. 

The study also found differences between U.S.-born Hispanic and foreign-born Hispanic respondents:

  • Among employed respondents, about 1 in 4 U.S.-born and 1 in 3 foreign-born Hispanic respondents reported they never or rarely had access to personal protective equipment at work.
  • Among those employed, 90% foreign-born Hispanic respondents took sick leave during their illness, compared to 76% among U.S.-born Hispanic respondents.
  • Fewer U.S.-born than foreign-born Hispanic respondents reported increased social stressors such as difficulty paying bills or access to public transportation.
  • This is the fourth data report from the Michigan COVID-19 Recovery Surveillance Study, a collaboration between U-M’s School of Public Health and the Michigan Department of Human Services that seeks to inform equitable responses to the current pandemic as well as future public health efforts.

Hispanic and Non-Hispanic White Differences in Access to Care, Recovery, and the Social Impact of COVID-19

More information:

After COVID-19 illness, Michiganders experienced increased disabilities
COVID-19 disproportionately impacted Michigan health care, service workers early in pandemic
Severe COVID-19 may be linked to long-haul symptoms
Black Michiganders with COVID-19 suffer worse health, socioeconomic outcomes than whites
Michiganders with COVID-19 experienced a double whammy of prolonged illness, economic distress
Nancy Fleischer
Nancy Fleischer, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Health equity, structural racism, COVID-19 recovery, tobacco
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