Higher income inequality associated with increased cases of infection with COVID-19

During the first several months of the COVID-19 pandemic, counties in the U.S. with reportedly higher income inequality were more likely to have seen surges of infection and death rates, a new study suggests.

As released in the journal JAMA Network Open, the U.S. counties with increased diversity in race and ethnicity, such as regions containing Black or Hispanic populants, were more prone to infection by the novel coronavirus.

In the study, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign analyzed the data of every state in the U.S., including its capital.

The data was derived from government-funded entities, like the U.S. Census Bureau and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over 3,000 counties were included, with a data collection timespan spanning from January 22nd through August 8th, 2020.

“Are racial/ethnic population composition and economic inequality associated with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) incidence and mortality…,” researchers implied in the findings.

“This county-level ecological analysis suggests that COVID-19 surveillance systems should account for county-level income inequality to better understand the social patterning of COVID-19 incidence and mortality. High levels of income inequality may harm population health irrespective of racial/ethnic composition,” researchers stated in their findings.

The results of the study depict the significance of county-level income inequality, where racial and ethnic considerations should be prioritized when addressing sudden surges of COVID-19 cases.

“The overall positive associations found in this study suggest that with health equity as a stated goal of the United States, real progress on this front will likely only come with a dedicated commitment to dismantling structural racism and economic inequality, particularly racialized economic inequality,” researchers also emphasized.

Image courtesy of Ed Reed
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