Kenan Li publishes research on disproportionate COVID-19 mortality in California

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Kenan Li, Ph.D., research scientist with the USC Spatial Sciences Institute, along with a team from the Keck School of Medicine Department of Preventive Medicine (now the Department of Population and Public Health Sciences), has published research on the disproportionate mortality impact of COVID-19 on identified racial//ethnic groups.

With co-authors Erika Garcia, Ph.D., Sandrah P. Eckel, Ph.D., Zhanghua Chen, Ph.D., and Frank D. Gilliland, Ph.D., Li and the research team identified COVID-19 deaths from death certificates in California from February 1 through July 31, 2020. They observed the most frequent characteristics among decedents were 65 years or above, male, Hispanic, foreign-born, with a high school education or below. Age-adjusted mortality rate ratios (MRR) indicated elevated COVID-19 mortality rates among Asian/Pacific Islander, Black and Hispanic groups compared with the White group.

They observed similar disparities with proportionate mortality rates (PMR). The team also found elevated PMR in all ethnicity/nativity groups, especially foreign-born Hispanic individuals, relative to U.S.-born non-Hispanic individuals. In addition, they saw evidence of greater disparities among younger age groups.

The research team published their results in the article COVID-19 mortality in California based on death certificates: disproportionate impacts across racial/ethnic groups and nativity in the Annals of Epidemiology in March 2021.

Li is a COVID-19 Geospatial Fellow with the NSF-funded Geospatial Software Institute (GSI) Conceptualization Project.



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