Investigating the relationships between concentrated disadvantage, place connectivity, and COVID-19 fatality in the United States over time

Fengrui Jing, Zhenlong Li, Shan Qiao, Jiajia Zhang, Bankole Olatosi, Xiaoming Li

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4 Scopus citations


Background: Concentrated disadvantaged areas have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 outbreak in the United States (US). Meanwhile, highly connected areas may contribute to higher human movement, leading to higher COVID-19 cases and deaths. This study examined the associations between concentrated disadvantage, place connectivity, and COVID-19 fatality in the US over time. Methods: Concentrated disadvantage was assessed based on the spatial concentration of residents with low socioeconomic status. Place connectivity was defined as the normalized number of shared Twitter users between the county and all other counties in the contiguous US in a year (Y = 2019). COVID-19 fatality was measured as the cumulative COVID-19 deaths divided by the cumulative COVID-19 cases. Using county-level (N = 3,091) COVID-19 fatality over four time periods (up to October 31, 2021), we performed mixed-effect negative binomial regressions to examine the association between concentrated disadvantage, place connectivity, and COVID-19 fatality, considering potential state-level variations. The moderation effects of county-level place connectivity and concentrated disadvantage were analyzed. Spatially lagged variables of COVID-19 fatality were added to the models to control for the effect of spatial autocorrelations in COVID-19 fatality. Results: Concentrated disadvantage was significantly associated with an increased COVID-19 fatality in four time periods (p < 0.01). More importantly, moderation analysis suggested that place connectivity significantly exacerbated the harmful effect of concentrated disadvantage on COVID-19 fatality in three periods (p < 0.01), and this significant moderation effect increased over time. The moderation effects were also significant when using place connectivity data from the previous year. Conclusions: Populations living in counties with both high concentrated disadvantage and high place connectivity may be at risk of a higher COVID-19 fatality. Greater COVID-19 fatality that occurs in concentrated disadvantaged counties may be partially due to higher human movement through place connectivity. In response to COVID-19 and other future infectious disease outbreaks, policymakers are encouraged to take advantage of historical disadvantage and place connectivity data in epidemic monitoring and surveillance of the disadvantaged areas that are highly connected, as well as targeting vulnerable populations and communities for additional intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2346
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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