The Impact of Socioeconomic Factors on Covid-19 and Other Infectious Diseases Across Counties In the United States



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This study aims to identify the socioeconomic factors associated with COVID-19 outcomes. A secondary goal of the study is to understand how these factors are correlated with outcomes of other infectious diseases such as chlamydia and HIV. The motivation for this comparison comes from the article by Ollstein, (2020) where she says that the insights gained by sexual health experts while trying to bring down STD rates could aid in the fight against COVID-19. The study uses data from 3,120 U.S. counties, and disease outcomes are regressed on socioeconomic factors including median income, age, gender, and political affiliation. The study finds that the best predictor of a county’s COVID-19 case rate is the percentage of the population that wears a mask always or frequently with a one percentage point increase being associated with a 128.1% decrease in the case rate. This figure likely includes the effect of following other CDC recommendations and not just mask-wearing. The second most significant predictor of the COVID-19 case rate was the political affiliation of the county. Other factors that were found to have a positive correlation with the COVID-19 case rate were proportion Black or African American and proportion Hispanic. Factors with a negative correlation with the COVID-19 case rate included proportion living in a rural area, proportion female, and proportion aged 65 and older. In the regressions for the COVID-19, chlamydia, and HIV case rates, proportion Black or African American and proportion Hispanic had positive relationships with the case rate. Median household income and proportion of the county’s population living in a rural area were found to have a negative relationship with the case rate. Age had similar effects for COVID-19 and chlamydia, but opposite effects for HIV. A higher proportion of females was associated with lower COVID-19 and HIV case rates but also a higher chlamydia rate. Continuing to identify these influential factors can aid in prevention efforts of future pandemics and guide the distribution of vital resources during disease outbreaks.