COVID-19 Disproportionately Affects America’s Wealthiest Counties and Minority Communities

Dawud Ujamaa
May 1, 2020 · 7 min read

Introduction

Recent data published by the CDC indicates that racial and ethnic minorities in the U.S.A. have disproportionately higher COVID-19 hospitalization rates and death rates. It is believed this is due to higher rates of underlying conditions like diabetes and heart disease, as well as living conditions resulting from lower income.

1. Identifying the Black and Hispanic Counties

Using the county-level demographic data, I identified the counties in the U.S.A. with a majority Black or Hispanic population by identifying the counties where Blacks or Hispanics make up more than 50% of the county’s population.

2. COVID-19 in Black and Hispanic Counties

The figure below shows the average number of confirmed COVID-19 cases for all USA Counties, majority Black Counties, and Majority Hispanic Counties. For all USA Counties, the average number of COVID-19 cases per County is 277.6 and the average number of COVID-19 deaths per County is 13.9.

3. COVID-19 and Income

The figures below show the average number of COVID-19 cases and death by County Per Capita Income Percentile. Performing the same analysis using Median Household Income Percentile shows the same trend.

4. Factors relating to COVID-19

The figure below shows the correlation matrix for the variables sourced from county-level data on confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths through April 2020, county demographics, and CDC’s 2018 social vulnerability index (SVI).

  1. Housing units / Households
  2. Housing in structures with 10 or more units
  3. Per capita income / Median Household Income
  4. Active Physicians per 100,000 Population

Conclusion

The average number of COVID-19 Cases and deaths was found to be higher in Counties with a majority Black population. This shows that racial minority communities are in fact disproportionately experiencing the impacts of COVID-19. While the Median Household Income in Counties with a majority Black population tends to be lower than the National average, it was also shown that the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths tends to increase as the Median Household Income and Per Capita Income of the County increases. The Counties with the top 1% highest Incomes had the highest average number of COVID-19 cases and deaths. One possible explanation for this could be that individuals residing in the Counties with the top 1% highest Incomes would have been more likely to have traveled, or associated with someone who traveled, to one of the Countries at the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. Another possible explanation is that more testing is being done in Counties where there is more money. In either case, the COVID-19 interventions such as shutting down public schools, shutting down dine-in restaurants, and restricting the size of gatherings (social distancing/physical distancing) seem to hamper the spread of COVID-19 infection. Since COVID-19 has impacted everyone regardless of race or socioeconomic status, if we all work together, we can overcome this pandemic to restore Public Health.

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Dawud Ujamaa

Written by

The Startup

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Dawud Ujamaa

Written by

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +793K followers.

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