Population health challenges in urban areas have been heightened by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The United States population largely lives in cities. While the pandemic affected the entire country, cities were initially the hardest hit. Cities are especially vulnerable to pandemics, as they have a greater population density, generally have larger inequality gaps, and see more travelers from across the country and world. However, at the same time, cities concentrate resources that can help mitigate public health emergencies.
Shifting Disparities in COVID-19 Vaccination Coverage Between Hispanic and Non-Hispanic Whites in Big Cities of the US
The COVID-19 pandemic has not impacted all populations equitably. Hispanic, Black, and Indigenous populations have experienced disproportionate rates of COVID-19 cases and mortality. Research suggests these disparities are primarily driven by excess exposure, rather differences in susceptibility (e.g., underlying conditions), or access to care. Higher rates of occupation in high risk and essential occupations and living in multi-generational and crowded housing likely contribute to these exposure disparities. In the early months of vaccine distribution, vaccination coverage for Hispanics/Latinos lagged far behind non-Hispanic Whites (NHW),potentially exacerbating the existing disparities in COVID-19 related morbidity and mortality.
The COVID-19 Health Inequities in Cities Dashboard, which tracks inequities in COVID-19 outcomes by various population subgroups and across multiple geographic levels, has recently launched an update that features supplemental data on hospitalization metrics. This new data was obtained from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). This data is supplemented by other sources including local and state health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
What are COVID-19 waves? As of December 2021, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is responsible for nearly 52 million confirmed cases, and over 800,000 deaths in the United States (US). While COVID-19 is a novel virus, coronavirus transmission follows multiwave dynamics that are similar to other infectious diseases.1 Multiwave dynamics refer to ‘waves’ of COVID-19 infection, characterized by surges and declines in the number of new COVID-19 cases (i.e., COVID-19 incidence).
We recently developed a new dashboard section for tracking outcomes and inequities in COVID-19 vaccination. This section allows users to track, describe, and compare inequities in COVID-19 vaccination on multiple levels in 29 large US cities. City Report: Vaccination First, in the City Report Vaccination tab, users can select a city, explore, and visualize inequities in COVID-19 vaccination outcomes by race/ethnicity and by neighborhood.
Spatial accessibility to COVID-19 testing is an indicator of whether residents of a particular neighborhood have access to nearby COVID-19 testing. We used data provided by Castlight Health Inc. containing the location of testing sites in the 30 BCHC cities to construct two spatial accessibility measures: A walkshed-based measure: a neighborhood is defined as having high access if at least 25% of its area is within a 15 minute walk of a testing site.
Cities play an important role in connecting people by proximity while offering several benefits to its inhabitants. However, city living is accompanied by potential health risks and challenges unique to modern cities. City living, in close proximity, brings together businesses and individuals that drive innovation, productivity, and socioeconomic growth in cities. However, under some conditions, city living is also accompanied by increased crowding. Overcrowded conditions are associated with decreased quality of life, unsafe living conditions, substandard housing, and poor sanitation; all of which can potentially exacerbate the transmission of infectious diseases in vulnerable populations.