Blog Post

Insight: COVID-19 Spotlights Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities in Utah

By: Andrea Thomas Brandley

Note: The opinions expressed are those of the author alone and do not reflect an institutional position of the Gardner Institute. We hope the opinions shared contribute to the marketplace of ideas and help people as they formulate their own INFORMED DECISIONS™.

As COVID-19 continues to spread, data reveal unequal impacts across population groups. Communities of color nationwide have been hit hard by the coronavirus, and Utah is no exception. The Hispanic/Latino population is Utah’s largest minority group. While they make up 14.2% of the state’s population, they account for 29.5% of COVID-19 cases and 20.9% of COVID-19 deaths.[i] Inequities in social determinants of health likely contribute significantly to this overrepresentation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines social determinants of health as “conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health and quality of life risks and outcomes”.[ii] These conditions contribute to adverse health effects for communities of color. Some of these factors include:

  • Health care access and utilization—Health insurance rates vary widely by race/ethnicity as seen in Figure 1. More than 35% of Utah’s Hispanic/Latino population has no health insurance, compared with only 8.3% of the white population.