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Wong MS, Yuan AH, Haderlein TP, Jones KT, Washington DL. Variations by race/ethnicity and time in Covid-19 testing among Veterans Health Administration users with COVID-19 symptoms or exposure. Preventive medicine reports. 2021 Dec 1; 24:101503.
Racial/ethnic disparities in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) hospitalization and mortality have emerged in the United States, but less is known about whether similar differences exist in testing, and how this changed as COVID-19 knowledge and policies evolved. We examined racial/ethnic variations in COVID-19 testing over time among veterans who sought care for COVID-19 symptoms or exposure. In the national population of all Veterans who sought Veterans Health Administration (VHA) care for COVID-19 symptoms or exposure (n = 913,806), we conducted multivariate logistic regressions to explore race/ethnicity-by-time period differences in testing from 3/1/2020-11/25/2020, and calculated predicted probabilities by race/ethnicity and time period. Early in the pandemic (3/1/2020-4/6/2020) when testing was limited and there was less awareness of racial/ethnic disparities, non-Hispanic Black, Hispanic, and other non-White racial/ethnic minority Veterans who sought care from VHA for COVID-19 symptoms or exposure were more likely than non-Hispanic White Veterans to receive a COVID-19 test (p < 0.05). In subsequent time periods (4/7/2020-11/25/2020), testing was similar among all racial/ethnic groups. Among Veterans with COVID-19 symptoms or exposure, non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic patients were just as likely, and in some cases, more likely, to receive a COVID-19 test versus non-Hispanic White patients. The United States faced testing shortages at the start of the third wave of the pandemic; additional shortages are likely to emerge as the pandemic continues to peak and ebb. It is important to ensure that racial/ethnic minorities and others at greater risk for infection continue to have access to COVID-19 testing with each of these peaks.