medRxiv. 2020 Dec 11:2020.12.08.20246017. doi: 10.1101/2020.12.08.20246017. Preprint.
OBJECTIVE: To measure the association of race, ethnicity, comorbidities, and insurance status with need for hospitalization of symptomatic Emergency Department (ED) patients with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection.
METHODS: This study is a retrospective case-series of symptomatic patients presenting to a single ED with laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection from March 12-August 9, 2020. We collected patient-level information regarding demographics, public insurance status (Medicare or Medicaid), comorbidities, level of care, and mortality using a structured chart review. We compared demographics and comorbidities of patients who were (1) able to convalesce at home, (2) required admission to general medical service, (3) required admission to intensive care unit (ICU), or (4) died within 30 days of the index visit. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed to report adjusted odds ratios (aOR) and the associated 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) with hospital admission versus ED discharge home.
RESULTS: In total, 993 patients who presented to the ED with symptoms were included in the analysis with 370 (37.3%) patients requiring hospital admission and 70 (7.1%) patients requiring ICU care. Patients requiring admission were more likely to be Black or African American, to be Hispanic or Latino, or to have public insurance (either Medicaid or Medicare.) On multivariable logistic regression analysis comparing which patients required hospital admission, African-American race (aOR 1.4, 95% CI 0.7-2.8) and Hispanic ethnicity (aOR 1.1, 95% CI 0.5-2.0) were not associated with need for admission but, public insurance (Medicaid: aOR 3.4, 95% CI 2.2-5.4; Medicare: aOR 2.6, 95% CI 1.2-5.3; Medicaid and Medicare: aOR 3.6 95% CI 2.1-6.2) and the presence of hypertension (aOR 1.8, 95% CI 1.2-2.7), diabetes (aOR 1.6, 95% CI 1.1-2.5), obesity (aOR 1.7, 95% CI 1.1-2.5), heart failure (aOR 3.9, 95% CI 1.4-11.2), and hyperlipidemia (aOR 1.8, 95% CI 1.2-2.9) were identified as independent predictors of hospital admission.
CONCLUSION: Comorbidities and public insurance are predictors of more severe illness for patients with SARS-CoV-2. This study suggests that the disparities in severity seen in COVID-19 among African Americans and Hispanics are likely to be closely related to low socioeconomic status and chronic health conditions and do not reflect an independent predisposition to disease severity.