This paper studies the relationship between density and COVID during three distinct waves of the pandemic in New York City. Unlike prior work, this paper's analysis uses individual Medicaid claims records, which include a rich array of demographic characteristics and pre-existing medical conditions and cover a near universe of low-income New Yorkers. In brief, the results suggest that living in higher density neighborhoods did not heighten the risk of COVID hospitalization.
Not a New Story: Place‐ and Race‐Based Disparities in COVID‐19 and Influenza Hospitalizations among Medicaid‐Insured Adults in New York City
For all that is unprecedented about COVID-19, the race-based health disparities in the pandemic's early days are sadly familiar. In this study, the authors compare the geographic and racial/ethnic disparities during the first three waves of the COVID-19 pandemic (first wave: January 1–April 30, 2020; second wave: May 1–August 31, 2020; third wave: September 1–December 31, 2020) to the 2016 and 2017 influenza seasons using New York State Medicaid claims data. Ultimately, the study concludes that while geographic and racial/ethnic disparities evident during the first wave of the pandemic were similar to those of previous waves of influenza, the later waves of COVID-19 hospitalizations reflected far less severe disparities. This is one of the first papers to examine how the characteristics of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 changed over the course of 2020, and in turn demonstrates how COVID-19-related racial/ethnic disparities decreased over time.