FRIDAY, Aug. 7, 2020 (HealthDay News) — U.S. minorities have been particularly hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, and a new study suggests kids are no exception.
Researchers found that at one community testing site, nearly half of Hispanic children and teens were positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The same was true of 30% of Black kids.
The rate among white kids hovered around 7%.
At this point, racial disparities in the U.S. pandemic are well-documented — at least among adults.
“But those adults also live with children,” said lead researcher Dr. Monika Goyal.
Her team’s findings — published online Aug. 5 in Pediatrics — offer a glimpse at how the pandemic is disproportionately affecting kids and teens, as well.
What the study cannot discern is why, said Goyal, a pediatric emergency specialist at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. But there are probably several reasons, she added.
Experts have pointed to a number of explanations for the racial disparities among adults: Many Black and Hispanic Americans are essential workers and cannot stay at home; they are more reliant on public transportation; and they often live in crowded housing, which can fuel COVID-19 transmission among family members.
And then there are the inequities in access to health care, including testing for the new coronavirus.
“COVID has really shined a light on many long-standing disparities in the U.S.,” Goyal said.
Dr. Lawrence Kleinman, a pediatrician and chief of population health, quality and implementation science at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, N.J., said, “The virus doesn’t discriminate — it’s the social conditions.”
Kleinman, whose own research has focused on COVID-19’s impact on kids, said the new findings are not surprising.
“They’re consistent with everything we’ve seen during the pandemic,” he said.
The new study included 1,000 young people, from infants through age 22 — the large majority (87%) being under 18. All were referred to a free testing site affiliated with Children’s National, because they had mild symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 and met certain other criteria — like known exposure to the virus.