Mount Sinai researchers have created a Covid-19 equity index at the district level to explore the relationship between socioeconomic disadvantages and infection and mortality rates during the pandemic, the health system announced Thursday.
The index was part of a study published this month in Nature Communications. It measured factors including employment, work patterns, population density, access to food, socioeconomic status, and access to health care. Mount Sinai used census data, information from subway riders and city and state health data between March and May to build the index.
Data available from the early days of the pandemic have focused on the pre-existing conditions of black and brown communities and how they have contributed to the disproportionate impact of coronavirus on these groups, said Daniel Carrión, postdoctoral research fellow at the Icahn School of Medicine in Mount Sinai. His team wanted to explore factors that preceded the conditions, such as socioeconomic problems, and support those links to the data, he said.
The study showed that zip codes with higher numbers of people per family and a higher number of essential workers who could not work remotely, and those in which residents largely lacked stable insurance, had infection rates. Covid-19 higher and more serious diseases. Those neighborhoods were also associated with a lower average income, less food per 1,000 people and a higher population density.
Although the study constructed its inequity index to exclude race as a variable, when the results were retroactively distributed to reveal race composition and ethnicity, higher inequities were faced by black and brown communities. .
“Running alone is not a factor for inequity,” Carrión said. “But it is the structural barriers and social conditions that color communities are exposed to on this account because of Covid’s unequal impact.”
Although the index should still be validated with future studies, he said, it could end up being a tool to help policy makers find appropriate approaches to dealing with health crises.
“In this pandemic, the solution was to stay home and work remotely, but clearly a lot of New Yorkers couldn’t do that,” Carrión said. The index can reveal which factors matter most per quarter, allowing for a stratified approach, he added.
The index also plays into access to vaccines.
“As different communities had different reasons for their barriers to accessing health care, they also had different reasons for being unable to access vaccines,” Carrión said.
This story first appeared in our sister publication, Crain’s New York Business.