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Creating a COVID-19 Urban Vulnerability Data Tool

Man wearing a mask

May 1, 2020

Drexel University’s Rapid Response and Development Fund was designated for urgent action, short-term projects focused on COVID-19 related health and health-related research and development. They received over 40 submissions. Amy Carroll-Scott, PhD, MPH, policy and community engagement core co-lead, and Félice Lê-Scherban, PhD, MPH, training core co-lead, were one of seventeen awardees.

Their awarded project is, “Creating a COVID-19 Urban Vulnerability Data Tool to Inform Mobilization and Coalition-Building.” This web-based COVID-19 urban vulnerability data tool will be adapted from the CDC’s social vulnerability index developed for use in disaster preparedness and response, and will be used to assess risk indicators and identify areas and sub-populations within Philadelphia that will experience the highest burden of COVID-19 and its economic impacts.

Marginalized urban communities will experience higher rates of COVID-19 infection and deaths. Some of the contributing factors to this higher rate include: higher occupational exposure, crowded living conditions, and limited access to testing and quality treatment. These communities will also need more support and resources to recover from the health, economic, and social impacts of this pandemic due to existing social and structural disadvantages.

Identifying which areas of the city will be most vulnerable to COVID-19 health and socioeconomic impacts will be immediately useful to Drexel, Dornsife School of Public Health, the Urban Health Collaborative, West Philly Promise Neighborhood, and public and private agencies throughout Philadelphia to inform allocation of resources and focus of response efforts.

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