The Emergence of Disparities in Infectious Disease: Comparing the Role of Housing and Social Policy in COVID-19 and Influenza Morbidity and Mortality

Awarded Scholars:
Sherry Glied , New York University
Ingrid Gould Ellen, New York University
Project Date:
Oct 2020
Award Amount:
$35,000

Stark racial and ethnic and socioeconomic disparities exist with regard to who is contracting and dying from COVID-19. Minority and low-income groups, especially African Americans, are suffering disproportionately due to the pandemic. This raises questions about how social, economic, and policy factors affect the diffusion of disease and the outcomes for those infected. Economist Sherry Glied and public policy scholar Ingrid Ellen will analyze unique data to assess the role of housing conditions, and their interaction with epidemic-mitigation policies, in generating racial and ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in COVID-19 in the early and later phases of the pandemic. The project will address four main questions: 1) What are the racial and ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in COVID-19 and seasonal influenza in the early and later phases of outbreaks within the New York State Medicaid population and how do they differ between the two diseases? 2) To what extent can these disparities be explained by differences in demographic characteristics, household characteristics, and pre-existing health status that could generate differences in exposure, underlying vulnerability, and treatment in the early and later phases of these outbreaks, and how do these differ between the two diseases? 3) Do housing characteristics (including crowding and residence in large, multifamily developments, older buildings, or public housing,), community conditions (transit access, density, health system characteristics), or social program participation explain variation in outcomes? 4) To what extent do these factors act differently in the early phase of outbreaks, before mitigation policies are adopted and precautions are taken and across these two diseases?

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