Skip to main content

The disproportionate rise in COVID-19 cases among Hispanic/Latinx in disadvantaged communities of Orange County, California: A socioeconomic case-series

Our take —

This was a case series study of COVID-19 patients and was available as a preprint. Thus, it had not yet been peer-reviewed. Investigators found that as time went on, Hispanic/Latinx patients from low income communities were increasing at a faster rate than any other demographic. These findings coincided with an increase in residents from areas with limited education, low health insurance coverage, and higher household density. These results are “hypothesis generating” as they allow other investigators to examine how these variables are associated with racial disparities in the COVID-19 pandemic with more robust samples. However, it should be noted that the over-representation of Hispanic/Latinx patients could be due to other factors aside from COVID-19 transmission dynamics (e.g. the study geographic setting).

Study design

Case Series

Study population and setting

This study followed 154 COVID-19 patients at the University of California Irvine Medical Center (UCI) in Orange County, California from March 12 to April 22, 2020.

Summary of Main Findings

The racial and economic profile of patients changed over the follow up period. Hispanic/Latinx patients residing in census tracts below the median income were admitted to UCI at an exponential rate over the study period (rate = 55.9%, R2= 0.9742). Other racial groups (White, Asian, and Black) did not see a significant growth. Patients residing in census tracts with higher household sizes and higher mean percentage of residents with no college degree, and no health insurance increased. A given patient’s census tract mean proportion of residents working from home also decreased over the study period.

Study Strengths

A strength of this study is that it includes both neighborhood and individual level variables to help predict the difference in the racial/ethnic distributions of the patients at the beginning of the period vs. the end of the period.


There was a small proportion of some racial groups at the beginning of follow up, so it is unclear if similar growth grates would occur in other populations (e.g. there were 4 Black patients total). It is also not clear if the community level factors overlapped with the individual level factors (i.e. if there was an increase in patients from crowded housing, was this see among Hispanic/Latinx specifically or in general). Also, some of the results could be indicative of the demographics that UCI already typically serves (i.e. predominantly Hispanic/Latinx, low income, etc.) independent of COVID-19 transmission rates as well as potential selection bias.

Value added

This study is one of few studies that provide predictive factors for racial/ethnic disparities in COVID-19 transmission and deaths.

This review was posted on: 6 July 2020