More than a century of research has shown that sociodemographic conditions affect infectious disease transmission. In the late spring and early summer of 2020, reports of the effects of sociodemographic variables on the spread of COVID- 19 were used in the media with minimal scientific proof attached. With new cases of COVID-19 surging in the United States at that time, it became essential to better understand how the spread of COVID-19 was varying across all segments of the population. We used hierarchical exponential growth curve modeling techniques to examine whether community socioeconomic characteristics uniquely influence the incidence of reported COVID-19 cases in the urban built environment. We show that as of July 19, 2020, confirmed coronavirus infections in New York City and surrounding areas— one of the early epicenters of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States—were concentrated along demographic and socioeconomic lines. Furthermore, our data provides evidence that after the onset of the pandemic, timely enactment of physical distancing measures such as school closures was essential to limiting the extent of the coronavirus spread in the population. We conclude that in a pandemic, public health authorities must impose physical distancing measures early on as well as consider community-level factors that associate with a greater risk of viral transmission.
Kranjac, A. W., & Kranjac, D. (2021). County-level factors that influenced the trajectory of COVID-19 incidence in the New York City area. Health Security. https://doi.org/10.1089/hs.2020.0236
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