Michigan Hispanic COVID-19 survivors reported worse symptoms, longer hospital stays than white adults

March 8, 2022
Written By:
Nardy Baeza Bickel

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.



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