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Social Vulnerability Linked to COVID-19 Diagnosis, Death

WEDNESDAY, July 1, 2020 -- Social vulnerability is associated with increased risk of COVID-19 diagnosis and death, according to research published online June 23 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Rohan Khazanchi, from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, and colleagues examined the association between social vulnerability and COVID-19 diagnosis and mortality in rural and urban communities. Counties were stratified into quartiles using the validated U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Social Vulnerability Index (SVI), which measured community resilience across four domains: socioeconomic status, household composition and disability, minority status and language, and housing and transportation.

The researchers identified 612,404 confirmed cases and 25,978 COVID-19 deaths across the 2,574 counties analyzed as of April 19, 2020 (mean cases, 102.2 per 100,000; deaths, 4.0 per 100,000). People in the most versus the least vulnerable counties had 1.63- and 1.73-fold greater risks of COVID-19 diagnosis and death, respectively. People in the most vulnerable counties had 4.94- and 4.74-fold greater risks of COVID-19 diagnosis and death, respectively, when considering only the minority status and language domain. Among urban counties alone, these trends persisted. Among rural counties alone, the risk of COVID-19 diagnosis was increased for the most vulnerable counties by minority status and language, while associations with overall SVI and other domains were not significant.

"Targeted interventions addressing geographically variable social vulnerabilities may be necessary to improve inequitable outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic, and health disparities more broadly," the authors write.

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