Document Type

Capstone Experience

Graduation Date


Degree Name

Master of Public Health


Health Promotion

First Committee Member

Melissa Tibbits

Second Committee Member

Melanie Menning

Third Committee Member

Armando De Alba Rosales


The novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has caused over 33.7 million cases and 605,000 deaths in the United States1. Factors associated with increased odds for hospitalization, death, and other poor outcomes include age, comorbid conditions like cardiovascular disease and lung disease, and obesity. COVID-19 has also disproportionately affected Hispanic communities across the United States and in Omaha. Potential explanations for this disparity include social determinants of health, particularly occupational factors, structural challenges to access healthcare services, and increased medical comorbidities including obesity. In this retrospective cohort study, we used patient data from April to May 2020 (N=1,000) from a Federally Qualified Health Center with a heavily underserved and Hispanic patient base to examine whether obesity predicted COVID-19 related ER usage and hospitalization, controlling for relevant demographic factors, comorbidities, and social determinants of health. Our adjusted analyses found age and BMI categories as independent predictors of ER usage and hospitalization. These results are important for delineating communities and groups at increased odds for negative COVID-19 outcomes and should play a role in equitable resource allocation.

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