CNN  — 

Racial and ethnic minority groups had higher rates of hospitalization for Covid-19 and sought emergency department care for Covid-19 more when compared to White people, according to two new studies published Monday in the US Centers for Disease Control and Preventions Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The reports underscore “the need to address health inequities in our country, including and our vaccination efforts,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Monday during a White House Covid-19 briefing.

“We must acknowledge the disparities that exist and commit to an equitable distribution of vaccines, particularly to those communities that have been hardest hit by the virus.”

The first study considered data from March to December 2020 found that racial and ethnic minority groups experienced higher proportions of Covid-19-related hospitalizations compared with White patients. In every US region, Hispanic patients represented the highest cumulative proportion of hospitalized patients with Covid-19.

Racial and ethnic disparities in the proportion of hospitalized patients were largest early in the pandemic, from April to July, and became less pronounced as hospitalizations increased among White patients. Declining disparities did not necessarily reflect reduced risk or better outcomes for minorities, but rather, increased risk for White patients, the authors said.

Still, disparities remained at of the end of the study period in all regions, particularly among Hispanics in the West. Researchers said these disparities are driven by higher risk factors for exposure to the coronavirus and a higher risk of severe disease.

The second study found that some racial and ethnic groups, including Hispanic, American Indian or Alaska Native and Black people, received emergency department care for Covid-19 at disproportionately higher rates compared with White patients.

Data from 13 states indicate that, compared with White people, Hispanic and American Indian or Alaska Native persons experienced 1.7 times the rate, and Black persons experienced 1.4 times the rate of emergency department care visits for Covid-19 from October to December 2020.