Long-Awaited Race and Ethnicity Data Confirms COVID's Disproportionate Impact on Minorities

May 29, 2020, 4:30 p.m. ·

(Data: Nebraska DHHS, U.S. Census Bureau. Graphic: Joe McMullen)

Minorities are infected with COVID-19 at much higher rates than white Nebraskans, according to data released by state officials today.

Hispanic residents make up about 11% of the statewide population, but 48% of COVID-19 cases. Asians are 2.7% of the population, and around 7% of infections. Multiracial Nebraskans are 2.3% of the population and around 10% of cases.

State Department of Health and Human Services CEO Dannette Smith says the data reflects long-standing disparities in access to healthcare.

"Some of our data is startling," Smith said. "We have a lot of work to do with our communities of color to ensure we understand their culture and linguistic needs."

Smith says the information won’t be on the state’s online data dashboard until the end of June. North Dakota is the only other state in the nation to not yet publish data about COVID-19 cases and/or deaths by race and ethnicity.

The data released Friday is based on about 9,600 of the state's 13,261 cases (as of 2 p.m. CT). Smith says it has been difficult to collect the race and ethnicity data, which is gathered from four different sources.

The same data sources are used to collect information about age and gender, and Smith said it has not been difficult to collect that information; she did not explain why race and ethnicity have been different.

The Douglas County and Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Departments have been releasing the regional data online. They show similar disparities in COVID-19 cases, with even larger differences among the Asian population.

COVID-19 Cases in Nebraska

COVID-19 Hospitalizations in Nebraska

COVID-19 Deaths in Nebraska