NEW ORLEANS — Each day, Louisiana hospitals test, diagnose, and treat COVID patients. The latest numbers from the state health department show 2,173 of them in hospitals.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, race and ethnicity seem to play a role in treatment.
A new study analyzed COVID treatments at 41 participating health care systems across the country.
“It’s looking at over 800,000 patients, and it is highlighting the need to improve equitable healthcare and service delivery,” said chair of epidemiology at LSU Heath, Dr. Takeda Ferguson.
Between November 2020 and August 2021, the CDC report found lower use of outpatient monoclonal antibody therapy among races and ethnicities of color when compared to white and non-Hispanic patients— about 50 percent lower in some comparisons.
According to the report, Hispanic patients received monoclonal antibody therapies 58 percent less often than non-Hispanic patients. It was 22 percent less often for Black patients, 48 percent less often for Asian patients and 47 percent less often for Other race patients when compared to white patients.
There were smaller differences for inpatient treatments of remdesivir and dexamethasone.
The report states: Hispanic inpatients received dexamethasone 6 percent less often than did non-Hispanic inpatients, and Black inpatients received remdesivir 9 percent more often than did White inpatients.
“This is not a surprise,” said Dr. Ferguson. “We want to highlight and figure out what we can do and where we still need to come in and intervene.”
Dr. Ferguson said, the pandemic has put long-standing medical inequities front and center. She said, why those inequities exist, hits on multiple levels.
“Some of those differences might be because of their resources, might be because of their income, their insurance status, them not being able to take off of work,” said Dr. Ferguson.
Educating all communities about medical access and options is vital, Dr. Ferguson said. Both she and the CDC report stress that COVID treatments are not vaccine replacements and that without intentional measures, inequities won’t change.
“It’s going to take additional policies and resources being put behind the different inequities to drive home and make the difference,” said Dr. Ferguson.
With communities of color documented through the pandemic as having greater COVID risks, Dr. Ferguson said making that difference can’t come soon enough.