Black women died from COVID-19 at much higher rates than white men in Georgia and Michigan last year, a new study found.
The disparity is notable because men tend to have higher COVID-19 mortality rates than women within individual race groups and overall, the Harvard researchers who crunched the numbers said.
According to the new study, Black women died at a rate that was about 3.8 times that of white men in Michigan through September 2020, meaning roughly 147 Black women died from COVID-19 for every 39 white men.
The mortality rate for Black women was 1.6 times the rate for white men in Georgia, the study reported.
“While overall, men have higher COVID-19 mortality rates than women, our findings show that this sex disparity does not hold across racial groups,” the study said.
“In reality, health risks are structured in complex ways that reflect systemic and broader societal inequities,” it found.
According to the study, the sex disparities in COVID-19 mortality rates “vary dramatically” between Black, white, and Asian and Pacific Islander populations in the two states.
In Michigan, the COVID-19 mortality rate for Black men is 170% times the rate for Black women, the study found.
In Georgia, the rate is 150% higher for Black men compared to Black women, and 140% higher for white men compared to white women.
“In both states, the gap between the rates for Black women compared to white women is higher than the gap between the rates for white men compared to white women,” the researchers found.
“These patterns suggest that it is overly reductive to treat the sex disparity as a biological feature that is constant across racial groups,” the study found.
“Rather, efforts to explain these disparities must focus on how differential risk of exposure and differential susceptibility to COVID-19 complications are jointly patterned by the gendered and racialized nature of work, housing and living conditions, comorbidities, and access to care,” it said.