The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has produced vastly disproportionate deaths for communities of color in the United States. Minnesota seemingly stands out as an exception to this national pattern, with white Minnesotans accounting for 80 percent of the population and 82 percent of COVID-19 deaths. The authors examine confirmed COVID-19 mortality alongside deaths indirectly attributable to the pandemic—“excess mortality”—in Minnesota. This analysis reveals profound racial disparities: age-adjusted excess mortality rates for whites are exceeded by a factor of 2.8 to 5.3 for all other racial groups, with the highest rates among Black, Latino, and Native Minnesotans. The seemingly small disparities in COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota reflect the interaction of three factors: the natural history of the disease, whose early toll was heavily concentrated in nursing homes; an exceptionally divergent age distribution in the state; and a greatly different proportion of excess mortality captured in confirmed COVID-19 rates for white Minnesotans compared with most other groups.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research was supported by a Sustainable Development Goals Rapid Response Grant at the University of Minnesota, the Division of Health Policy and Management at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, the University of Minnesota’s Fesler-Lampert Chair in Aging Studies, and the Minnesota Population Center, which is funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (P2C HD041023).
© The Author(s) 2020.
- excess mortality
- racial disparities