Differences in County COVID-19 diagnoses by Race/Ethnicity, Age, and Gender


The incidence of COVID-19 cases differs by demographic characteristics, such as race/ethnicity, gender, and age. Disparities in systemic factors such as healthcare access, income, and employment may put people in some racial and ethnic groups at greater risk of both getting COVID-19 and becoming severely ill. The likelihood of severe illness increases with age. 

The figure below shows the percentage of cumulative cases represented by each demographic group. This measure is calculated each day for each geographic region by dividing the number of cumulative incident cases for each demographic characteristic (race/ethnicity, gender, and age) by the total cases up to that day.

  • Click on a box above the graph to select the demographic characteristic (race/ethnicity, gender, or age) of interest. 
  • Select a county in the drop down menu to look at county level data. 
  • Select a category of the demographic variable (ex. female) to see the overall percentage of cases among people in that category. 

All data are preliminary and subject to change. Corrections and updates are made as cases are being investigated and reported. The most current data are available on the NC DHHS COVID-19 dashboard.

To see how to use, FAQs and definitions, click here.

Stay tuned. Updates for Omicron are coming soon.
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What does this visualization show me?

This figure shows the percentage of cumulative cases within each category of race/ethnicity, gender, or age (depending on your selection) for each geographic region at each point in time since the pandemic began. Each line represents a specific demographic group. By comparing the line showing the percentage of cases in each category to the line showing the overall percentage of the population in that category, you can see if a group has been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. Gray shading above the population line represents a disproportionately high percentage of cases. Gray shading below the population line represents a disproportionately low percentage of the cases. You can see the percentage of cases in each category on a given day and the percentage of the population in a selected category by hovering over the line with your mouse.

How does this visualization help us understand COVID-19?

This figure helps us understand group disparities in who is getting diagnosed with COVID-19. We can use this graph to view changes in the demographic distribution of cases since the beginning of the outbreak. We may identify populations inequitably vulnerable (i.e., at higher risk for) to elevated SARS-CoV-2 transmission and COVID-19 diagnosis. Fluctuations in the demographic patterns of COVID-19 cases over the course of the pandemic may reflect changing transmission patterns within a community. Examining the percentage of cumulative cases by demographic group helps to identify groups that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic overall.

NOTE: Demographic groups may have differential access to testing; access to testing may have changed over time; and, results from antigen tests were not routinely reported or included in case counts. Additionally, many COVID-19 cases are missing information on race/ethnicity. Consequently, disparities in the burden of COVID-19 may be greater than what is presented in this figure. To maintain confidentiality, when the denominator for each geographic area was less than 500 cases, cases for each demographic group were set to 2.5 and case denominators were set to 500. As a result, there may be some fluctuation early in 2020 before case counts were high enough to report.

Where do the data come from?

COVID-19 data are from NCDHHS, Division of Public Health. NCDHHS obtains demographic information on cases from COVID-19 laboratory report results submitted to the North Carolina COVID-19 Surveillance System (NC COVID). Demographic information on the laboratory reports is often incomplete. Some demographic information is also collected through contact tracing activities completed by local health departments. Demographic information from contact tracing is also incomplete because some cases cannot be reached or decide not to supply information.

How were the measures calculated?

The percentage of cumulative cases represents one hundred times the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in a specific demographic group divided by the total number of COVID-19 cases in that county since reporting of COVID19 case data began. 

Race/ethnicity was categorized into the following groups: Hispanic, Asian non-Hispanic, Black non-Hispanic, White non-Hispanic, Other, and Unknown Race. Gender was categorized as Female, Male or Unknown.  Note that sex and gender were captured on testing forms inconsistently across the state and therefore gender may represent biological sex or gender identity depending on the location of data collection and.  Age was categorized as follows: children/adolescents (ages 0 to 17), adults (ages 18 to 64), and older adults (ages 65+). The denominator for the percentage of cases is the total number of cases where data on the demographic characteristic of interest is not missing. Data were suppressed when there were less than 500 cases total in a particular geographic region at that time.

How often are the data updated?

All COVID-19 measures shown in this graph are updated weekly on Tuesday.

  • Select the demographic characteristic of interest (race/ethnicity, gender, or age) by clicking on a button above the graph. Then choose the county of interest from the drop-down box to the right of the graph.
  • Choose a category of the demographic characteristic (ex. female) in the drop-down box to the right of the map to see the straight horizontal line representing the percentage of the total county population in that demographic category (ex. what percentage of the county is female).
  • Select a date range to view.
  • Use the filter checkboxes to the right of the graph to display selected demographic categories.
  • Hover over the colored line of each demographic category to see the percentage of cases, the percentage of the total population, and the difference between the percentage of cases and the percentage of the total population.

The findings and conclusions on this page are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health. The North Carolina Disease Event Tracking and Epidemiologic Collection Tool (NC DETECT) is an advanced, statewide public health surveillance system. NC DETECT is supported by the North Carolina Division of Public Health through a federal Public Health Emergency Preparedness Grant and is managed through a collaboration between NC DPH and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of Emergency Medicine's Carolina Center for Health Informatics.