Analyzing COVID-19 Mortality Within the Chicagoland Area
journal contributionposted on 21.12.2020, 20:44 by Matthew Blaser, Michael Cailas, John Canar, Brian Cooper, Peter Geraci, Kristin M. Osiecki, Apostolis Sambanis
Disseminating reliable information and data is a critical component of an effective risk communication and community engagement strategy to combat any pandemic. During the current public health crisis, many agencies and media outlets are reporting health outcome information based on the overall population of Chicagoland geographic regions. The current study demonstrates that by not accounting for the significant loss of life in Long-Term Care Facilities (LTCF), commonly quoted public health outcome indicators are likely to be inaccurate. Identification of regions with high levels of mortality and infection is a prerequisite for an effective mitigation strategy to protect the public and allocate resources. The common practice for visualizing pandemic information is to rely on overall population loss figures and ratios. The current study demonstrates that by doing so, the spatial distribution of Chicagoland critical areas is likely to be distorted. In the current crisis, inequitable public health outcomes are associated with economic and social factors. Separating Chicagoland mortality into two groups, LTCF and household unit populations, and focusing on the latter, allows us to better discern associations with socioeconomic variables for the general population. This finding has a significant implication on the variable selection and model specification for social vulnerability studies.