Recent single-center reports have suggested that community-acquired bacteremic co-infection in the context of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be an important driver of mortality; however, these reports have not been validated with a multicenter, demographically diverse, cohort study with data spanning the pandemic. In this multicenter, retrospective cohort study, inpatient encounters were assessed for COVID-19 with community-acquired bacteremic co-infection using 48-h post-admission blood cultures and grouped by: (1) confirmed co-infection [recovery of bacterial pathogen], (2) suspected co-infection [negative culture with ≥ 2 antimicrobials administered], and (3) no evidence of co-infection [no culture]. The primary outcomes were in-hospital mortality, ICU admission, and mechanical ventilation. COVID-19 bacterial co-infection risk factors and impact on primary outcomes were determined using multivariate logistic regressions and expressed as adjusted odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals (Cohort, OR 95% CI, Wald test p value). The studied cohorts included 13,781 COVID-19 inpatient encounters from 2020 to 2022 in the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB, n = 4075) and Ochsner Louisiana State University Health-Shreveport (OLHS, n = 9706) cohorts with confirmed (2.5%), suspected (46%), or no community-acquired bacterial co-infection (51.5%) and a comparison cohort consisting of 99,170 inpatient encounters from 2010 to 2019 (UAB pre-COVID-19 pandemic cohort). Significantly increased likelihood of COVID-19 bacterial co-infection was observed in patients with elevated ≥ 15 neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (UAB: 1.95 [1.21-3.07]; OLHS: 3.65 [2.66-5.05], p < 0.001 for both) within 48-h of hospital admission. Bacterial co-infection was found to confer the greatest increased risk for in-hospital mortality (UAB: 3.07 [2.42-5.46]; OLHS: 4.05 [2.29-6.97], p < 0.001 for both), ICU admission (UAB: 4.47 [2.87-7.09], OLHS: 2.65 [2.00-3.48], p < 0.001 for both), and mechanical ventilation (UAB: 3.84 [2.21-6.12]; OLHS: 2.75 [1.87-3.92], p < 0.001 for both) across both cohorts, as compared to other risk factors for severe disease. Observed mortality in COVID-19 bacterial co-infection (24%) dramatically exceeds the mortality rate associated with community-acquired bacteremia in pre-COVID-19 pandemic inpatients (5.9%) and was consistent across alpha, delta, and omicron SARS-CoV-2 variants. Elevated neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio is a prognostic indicator of COVID-19 bacterial co-infection within 48-h of admission. Community-acquired bacterial co-infection, as defined by blood culture-positive results, confers greater increased risk of in-hospital mortality, ICU admission, and mechanical ventilation than previously described risk factors (advanced age, select comorbidities, male sex) for COVID-19 mortality, and is independent of SARS-CoV-2 variant.