Race and ethnicity have been identified as key factors related to understanding the scope of the pandemic, but pediatric data are limited.
A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed a higher prevalence of COVID-19 cases among Hispanic, Black and Native American children and young adults in 15 states and the District of Columbia (https://bit.ly/3meOkcC).
While COVID cases by age are reported on most state public health websites (https://bit.ly/2LigD8n), information by race and ethnicity among children is not. Illinois and California are exceptions and provide examples of how disparities in COVID-19 have shifted over time and likely vary across states.
In both California and Illinois, Hispanic/Latino children are overrepresented among the total cumulated confirmed child COVID-19 cases (see figure 1). In California, 48% of the state child population is identified as Latino, but 65% of the confirmed pediatric cases were among Latino children. In Illinois, 25% of the child population is identified as Hispanic but make up 31% of the pediatric cases.
Data from these two states also illustrate how the impact of the pandemic varied by race and ethnicity over time (see figure 2). In Illinois, the Hispanic share of child cases was higher throughout the pandemic but declined as the percent of cases among White children grew throughout the summer and into 2021. This likely reflects the early surge in the Chicago area but then substantial spread to suburban and rural areas of the state as new waves of the pandemic emerged. In California, the pattern was similar but much less pronounced. These examples indicate the importance of looking within states and over time to assess disparities.
Data for these analyses were drawn from the information posted on each state’s health department websites. Data on race and ethnicity were missing for 26% of cases in Illinois and 19% of cases in California.