For Immediate Release
April 20, 2020
Residents encouraged to continue practicing social distancing
INDIANAPOLIS – Today, as part of continued efforts to provide the community with as much information as possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Marion County Public Health Department is releasing data on COVID-19 hospitalizations analyzed by race, age, and gender. The data demonstrated a higher rate of COVID-19 cases and deaths among African-Americans, and poorer outcomes for men infected with the virus as compared to women, as well as those of older age groups.
As of April 20, Marion County had 4,052 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 192 deaths, with Indiana reporting 11,686 confirmed cases and 569 deaths. In Marion County, Whites are 56 percent of the population, Blacks are 29 percent, and Latino are 11 percent.
Based on case investigations conducted by the Marion County Public Health Department, African-American residents have been 3 times more likely than White residents to get diagnosed with a confirmed case COVID-19. Data shows 290 confirmed cases per 100,000 for African- Americans compared to 97 cases per 100,000 for Whites. African-Americans in Marion County are 2.5 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 (106 per 100,000) than whites (43 per 100,000). The difference is also reflected in deaths, with African-Americans being twice as likely to die from COVID-19 (20 deaths per 100,000) than White residents (10.5 deaths per 100,000).
“Chronic health conditions such as heart disease, asthma, hypertension, diabetes, obesity and asthma will put any person at a higher risk for complications from a COVID-19 infection,“ said Virginia A. Caine, director and chief medical officer of the Marion County Public Health Department. “These health conditions, however, are more prevalent in the African-American community and, as a result, increase their chances of hospitalization and even death from this virus. We must understand this risk and use this information to help prevent infections.”
This difference in impact by race is not a trend unique to Marion County. An analysis of national data, published recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has also found a higher number of hospitalizations per population among African Americans than whites.
“Through the COVID-19 pandemic, the City has remained dedicated to serving all members of our community and ensuring they have the information they need to stay healthy and safe,” said Paul Babcock, Director of the Office of Public Health and Safety. “Knowing the outcomes relevant to your gender, race, and age group can help residents understand the gravity of this virus, and hopefully, take seriously the social distancing precautions that are critical to our ability to gradually and thoughtfully reopen Indianapolis when the time is right.”
The Marion County Public Health Department and the City continue to work together closely to ensure public health data and science guide policy decisions, especially as policymakers look to how and when to begin slowly reopening the city. Over recent weeks, City and County agencies have taken unprecedented steps to slow the spread of COVID-19, from closing amenities at Indy Parks, to mailing a primary election ballot application to every Indianapolis voter, to changing how public safety agencies respond to calls for service, such as Indianapolis EMS’ transition to on-scene triage.
The health department, in partnership with MESH Coalition and the City, is also conducting ongoing drive-through COVID-19 testing at the Indiana State Fairgrounds for essential frontline employees.
Racial and ethnic breakdowns of COVID-19 in Marion County are not yet fully available. Information according to race was not available for 37 percent of confirmed cases and 17 percent of deaths that were investigated. Despite this, the amount of missing data is not statistically significant enough to reverse the differences seen in the rates of illness and death between African-Americans and Whites. COVID-19 data specific to the Latino population is still being gathered and evaluated.
“Protecting the health and welfare of all Indianapolis residents is the Council’s number one priority,” said Council President Vop Osili. “At the same time, we must be sensitive to the disproportional impact COVID-19 is having on African Americans in our community and work to prevent widening health disparities.”
The risk of illness and death from COVID-19 is also strongly related to age. The Marion County Public Health Department has found that the number of cases increased gradually from age 20 to age 65, and then increased more quickly. The risk of death from COVID-19 increased rapidly, from less than one death per 100,000 for people age 20 to 44 years old, to over 200 deaths per 100,000 for people age 85 years or older. In that age range, the risk of death tripled for every 10-20 years of age.
While a similar rate of men and women have been infected with COVID-19 in Marion County, men have been twice as likely to die from the disease, with 20 deaths per 100,000 for men, compared to 10 deaths per 100,000 women.
The Marion County Emergency Operations Center reminds everyone to continue practicing social distancing as an effective way to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Residents who choose to leave their homes are reminded to follow the current social distancing guidelines which include maintaining at least six feet of distance between other people and wearing a cloth mask over their mouth and nose. Additionally, upon returning home, it’s a good practice to change clothes and wash any areas of the body that were exposed, including hands and face.
For more information about the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit CDC.gov or MarionHealth.org.
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Media/Public Information Coordinator
317-221-2316 (o) │ 317-525-7450 (c)