LSU Health New Orleans study finds disadvantaged census tracts linked to COVID incidence

February 23, 2021

New Orleans, LA - An LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health study reports a positive association between social vulnerability and COVID-19 incidence at the census tract level and recommends that more resources be allocated to socially vulnerable populations to reduce the incidence of COVID-19. The findings are published in Frontiers in Public Health, available
"In our study, we found Louisiana census tracts with higher levels of social vulnerability were associated with higher COVID-19 cumulative incidence between March 9 to August 24, 2020, even after adjusting for population density," says first author Erin Biggs, MPH, Doctoral Candidate, PhD in Epidemiology at LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health. The researchers conducted an ecological study comparing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Social Vulnerability Index (CDC SVI) and census tract-level COVID-19 case counts.

According to the CDC, social vulnerability refers to the resilience of communities when confronted by external stresses on human health, stresses such as natural or human-caused disasters, or disease outbreaks. Its Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's Social Vulnerability Index uses U.S. census variables at tract level to help local officials identify communities that may need support in preparing for hazards or recovering from a disaster. The CDC SVI ranks each tract on 15 social factors, including poverty, unemployment rate, percentage of single-parent households, lack of vehicle access, and crowded housing. The factors are grouped into four themes - socioeconomic, household composition and disability, minority and language, and housing and transportation.

The researchers identified census tracts with high levels of both social vulnerability and COVID-19 incidence. They report that as the SVI increases, so too does COVID-19 cumulative incidence.

The authors identify some of the factors that increase risk, such as having jobs where people cannot work from home and that bring them into contact with large numbers of people, living in crowded households with less room to physically distance, less ability to buy face masks, and less access to quality scientific information. They note that African Americans and Hispanics are more likely to live in multigenerational homes, which may make self-isolation more difficult for family members who contract COVID-19. These conditions can lead to increased transmission and community prevalence.

The authors write that their findings support the recent argument that the United States faces significant challenges in its handling of the COVID-19 epidemic, particularly due to the nation's structural racism and inattention to the barriers to health at the root of racial health disparities across the nation. They conclude that the CDC's Social Vulnerability Index could be useful in identifying locations that are most impacted by COVID-19 and should thus be targeted for more specific interventions. The factors that comprise social vulnerability, such as income, education, poverty, race, and ethnicity, influence who will suffer the most from the COVID-19 epidemic.
-end-
Other LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health authors include Drs. Ariane Rung, Edward S. Peters and William Robinson, along with Dr. Patrick M. Maloney from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Epidemiology and Surveillance Branch.

LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans educates Louisiana's health care professionals. The state's flagship health sciences university, LSU Health New Orleans includes a School of Medicine with branch campuses in Baton Rouge and Lafayette, the state's only School of Dentistry, Louisiana's only public School of Public Health, and Schools of Allied Health Professions, Nursing, and Graduate Studies. LSU Health New Orleans faculty take care of patients in public and private hospitals and clinics throughout the region. In the vanguard of biosciences research in a number of areas in a worldwide arena, the LSU Health New Orleans research enterprise generates jobs and enormous economic impact. LSU Health New Orleans faculty have made lifesaving discoveries and continue to work to prevent, advance treatment, or cure disease. To learn more, visit
http://www.lsuhsc.edu, http://www.twitter.com/LSUHealthNO, or http://www.facebook.com/LSUHSC.

Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center

Related Public Health Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 and the decolonization of Indigenous public health
Indigenous self-determination, leadership and knowledge have helped protect Indigenous communities in Canada during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and these principles should be incorporated into public health in future, argue the authors of a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) http://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.200852.

Public health consequences of policing homelessness
In a new study examining homelessness, researchers find that policy such a lifestyle has massive public health implications, making sleeping on the street even MORE unhealthy.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic likely to cause long-term health problems, Yale School of Public Health finds
The coronavirus pandemic's life-altering effects are likely to result in lasting physical and mental health consequences for many people--particularly those from vulnerable populations--a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health finds.

The Lancet Public Health: US modelling study estimates impact of school closures for COVID-19 on US health-care workforce and associated mortality
US policymakers considering physical distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 face a difficult trade-off between closing schools to reduce transmission and new cases, and potential health-care worker absenteeism due to additional childcare needs that could ultimately increase mortality from COVID-19, according to new modelling research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Study estimates mental health impact of welfare reform, Universal Credit, in Great Britain
The 2013 Universal Credit welfare reform appears to have led to an increase in the prevalence of psychological distress among unemployed recipients, according to a nationally representative study following more than 52,000 working-age individuals from England, Wales, and Scotland over nine years between 2009-2018, published as part of an issue of The Lancet Public Health journal on income and health.

BU researchers: Pornography is not a 'public health crisis'
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such a claim actually endangers the health of the public.

The Lancet Public Health: Ageism linked to poorer health in older people in England
Ageism may be linked with poorer health in older people in England, according to an observational study of over 7,500 people aged over 50 published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health
Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health -- lower obesity rates.

Read More: Public Health News and Public Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.