Skip to main content

Main Area

Main

Counties most vulnerable to COVID-19 in every state

  • Counties most vulnerable to COVID-19 in every state

    What creates vulnerability during a global pandemic? Why are certain populations more vulnerable than others? Since COVID-19 is a novel virus, meaning it is a virus that has not been recorded, there’s a learning curve for both doctors and scientists, and often this means that they learn as they go. This is what is happening with COVID-19. Its classification as a novel virus alone makes everyone vulnerable as a society.

    The lack of information and knowledge creates vulnerability, especially when it comes to previously identified vulnerable groups. These include rural populations that are located far from health care services or have a shrinking number of hospitals or primary care physicians; single-parent households battling economic hardship because they only have one income to rely on; the elderly who often have either health issues or compromised immune systems; and minority and disabled populations that often fight systemic inequalities.

    Stacker compiled a list of the counties that are most vulnerable to COVID-19 in every state using the Surgo Foundation’s COVID-19 Community Vulnerability Index (CCVI), which identifies communities more vulnerable to the pandemic. The CCVI defines “more vulnerable” communities as those that “have a limited ability to mitigate, treat, and delay transmission of a pandemic disease, and to reduce its economic and social impacts.”

    The index uses six themes, or groups of indicators. Four themes are adopted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Social Vulnerability Index, which measures a community’s resilience to all types of natural disaster from a sociodemographic perspective, and the remaining two themes—epidemiological factors and health care system factors—have been compiled by Surgo Foundation researchers specifically to address COVID-19.

    The index’s full methodology, including sources for all indicators, is available here. For both the overall CCVI score and the scores for individual themes, a higher value indicates a more vulnerable population. The data date is 2014–2018 and varies by indicator. The data was released in April.

    In this story, Stacker lays out the CCVI scores for each state, as well as each state’s two biggest areas of vulnerability, i.e., themes that received the highest scores, and the three counties in this state that have the highest vulnerability.

    Read on to find out what makes certain counties and the groups that call them home especially vulnerable to COVID-19.

    You may also like: How COVID-19 projections compare to leading causes of death in America

  • Alabama

    - State overall CCVI score: 0.92 (#5 most vulnerable among all states)
    --- #1 area of vulnerability (tie): Socioeconomic status (score: 0.92)
    --- #1 area of vulnerability (tie): Health care system factors (score: 0.92)
    - #1 most vulnerable county: Barbour County
    --- County overall CCVI score: 0.99
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Socioeconomic status (score: 0.97)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Health care system factors (score: 0.94)
    - #2 most vulnerable county: Perry County
    --- County overall CCVI score: 0.99
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Socioeconomic status (score: 0.99)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Household composition and disability (score: 0.94)
    - #3 most vulnerable county: Hale County
    --- County overall CCVI score: 0.98
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Household composition and disability (score: 0.96)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Health care system factors (score: 0.93)

    Though downgraded to low-risk on Aug. 14, Barbour County still has a poverty rate that is more than double the nation’s, which makes for a highly vulnerable population. Perry County, the second most vulnerable county in Alabama, has the second-highest prevalence of diabetes of all counties in the state, which makes residents particularly vulnerable during the pandemic. Diabetes contributes to higher hospitalization rates in COVID-19 patients, more serious illness, and a higher risk of death.

  • Alaska

    - State overall CCVI score: 0.60 (#20 most vulnerable among all states)
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Housing type and transportation (score: 0.98)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Minority status and language (score: 0.60)
    - #1 most vulnerable county: Kusilvak County
    --- County overall CCVI score: 0.98
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Socioeconomic status (score: 1)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Housing type and transportation (score: 1)
    - #2 most vulnerable county: Dillingham County
    --- County overall CCVI score: 0.95
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Housing type and transportation (score: 1)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Minority status and language (score: 0.92)
    - #3 most vulnerable county: Nome County
    --- County overall CCVI score: 0.95
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Housing type and transportation (score: 1)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Minority status and language (score: 0.93)

    Across all three of the most vulnerable counties in Alaska, housing type and transportation is a major area of vulnerability. In Nome County, the average commute time to work is under 7 minutes, and many residents do not own cars, which can make it difficult during emergency situations in terms of travel to jobs, doctors offices, and hospitals.

  • Arizona

    - State overall CCVI score: 0.54 (#23 most vulnerable among all states)
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Minority status and language (score: 0.84)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Socioeconomic status (score: 0.70)
    - #1 most vulnerable county: Apache County
    --- County overall CCVI score: 0.99
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Minority status and language (score: 0.97)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Socioeconomic status (score: 0.97)
    - #2 most vulnerable county: Navajo County
    --- County overall CCVI score: 0.85
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Socioeconomic status (score: 0.93)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Minority status and language (score: 0.89)
    - #3 most vulnerable county: Graham County
    --- County overall CCVI score: 0.78
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Housing type and transportation (score: 0.91)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Minority status and language (score: 0.90)

    As of Aug. 10, Apache County has had a high infection rate, and the population remains highly vulnerable. Not only is there a high poverty rate in the county, but more than 54% of its residents do not speak English. This economic disadvantage and the communication barrier make residents particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.

  • Arkansas

    - State overall CCVI score: 0.96 (#3 most vulnerable among all states)
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Household composition and disability (score: 0.98)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Health care system factors (score: 0.94)
    - #1 most vulnerable county: Chicot County
    --- County overall CCVI score: 1
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Housing type and transportation (score: 0.97)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Health care system factors (score: 0.95)
    - #2 most vulnerable county: Desha County
    --- County overall CCVI score: 0.99
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Socioeconomic status (score: 0.97)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Household composition and disability (score: 0.96)
    - #3 most vulnerable county: Phillips County
    --- County overall CCVI score: 0.99
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Household composition and disability (score: 1)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Socioeconomic status (score: 0.97)

    On July 29, Chicot County wound up with the highest number of new cases due to an outbreak of the coronavirus at a local correctional facility. In the same month, the CDC labeled the county an area of concern. Vulnerabilities are also found in 67.5% of homes where grandparents are the primary caregivers, while another 54% of homes are run by single parents.

  • California

    - State overall CCVI score: 0.14 (#8 least vulnerable among all states)
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Minority status and language (score: 1)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Housing type and transportation (score: 0.86)
    - #1 most vulnerable county: Lake County
    --- County overall CCVI score: 0.81
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Housing type and transportation (score: 0.91)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Minority status and language (score: 0.86)
    - #2 most vulnerable county: Trinity County
    --- County overall CCVI score: 0.66
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Housing type and transportation (score: 0.93)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Household composition and disability (score: 0.89)
    - #3 most vulnerable county: Glenn County
    --- County overall CCVI score: 0.64
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Minority status and language (score: 0.97)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Socioeconomic status (score: 0.88)

    As of Aug. 14, Glenn County is on the state’s COVID-19 watchlist for failing to meet several criteria. With a citizenship rate lower than the national average of 93.2% and a significant Latino population, the county’s #3 vulnerability ranking and findings support how hard the pandemic has hit minority populations.

    You may also like: State and federal rental laws affected by the coronavirus

     

     

  • Colorado

    - State overall CCVI score: 0.10 (#6 least vulnerable among all states)
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Minority status and language (score: 0.62)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Health care system factors (score: 0.52)
    - #1 most vulnerable county: Morgan County
    --- County overall CCVI score: 0.90
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Minority status and language (score: 0.94)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Housing type and transportation (score: 0.84)
    - #2 most vulnerable county: Logan County
    --- County overall CCVI score: 0.87
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Housing type and transportation (score: 0.95)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Epidemiological factors (score: 0.94)
    - #3 most vulnerable county: Bent County
    --- County overall CCVI score: 0.86
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Housing type and transportation (score: 0.98)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Socioeconomic status (score: 0.93)

    Logan County has the highest prevalence of adult obesity of all counties in the state, while Morgan County closely follows. According to the CDC, obese people are at an increased risk of developing severe illness due to COVID-19.

  • Connecticut

    - State overall CCVI score: 0.30 (#16 least vulnerable among all states)
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Minority status and language (score: 0.70)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Health care system factors (score: 0.66)
    - #1 most vulnerable county: Fairfield County
    --- County overall CCVI score: 0.34
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Minority status and language (score: 0.86)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Epidemiological factors (score: 0.57)
    - #2 most vulnerable county: New Haven County
    --- County overall CCVI score: 0.33
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Minority status and language (score: 0.83)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Health care system factors (score: 0.64)
    - #3 most vulnerable county: Hartford County
    --- County overall CCVI score: 0.25
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Minority status and language (score: 0.84)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Health care system factors (score: 0.45)

    Fairfield County had the highest number of COVID-19 cases of any county in Connecticut as of Aug. 10. The county is in close proximity to New York City, where since the beginning of the pandemic there have been at least 433,881 cases and 32,464 deaths, according to the New York Times. While New Haven County is in the midst of not only a significant number of COVID-19 cases, it is also experiencing a rise in the number of drug overdose deaths.

  • Delaware

    - State overall CCVI score: 0.58 (#21 most vulnerable among all states)
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Epidemiological factors (score: 0.82)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Minority status and language (score: 0.72)
    - #1 most vulnerable county: Kent County
    --- County overall CCVI score: 0.61
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Minority status and language (score: 0.79)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Health care system factors (score: 0.65)
    - #2 most vulnerable county: Sussex County
    --- County overall CCVI score: 0.53
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Epidemiological factors (score: 0.87)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Minority status and language (score: 0.68)
    - #3 most vulnerable county: New Castle County
    --- County overall CCVI score: 0.24
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Minority status and language (score: 0.83)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Epidemiological factors (score: 0.72)

    Though New Castle County has a high percentage of white residents, COVID-19 cases are highest among Latino and Black populations, supporting the disproportionate effects of the pandemic on minority groups. All three of Delaware’s most vulnerable counties also rank highest in the state for both diabetes and obesity.

  • Florida

    - State overall CCVI score: 0.34 (#18 least vulnerable among all states)
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Minority status and language (score: 0.88)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Socioeconomic status (score: 0.68)
    - #1 most vulnerable county: Hamilton County
    --- County overall CCVI score: 0.92
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Socioeconomic status (score: 0.99)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Housing type and transportation (score: 0.99)
    - #2 most vulnerable county: Hendry County
    --- County overall CCVI score: 0.91
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Minority status and language (score: 0.99)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Housing type and transportation (score: 0.99)
    - #3 most vulnerable county: Gadsden County
    --- County overall CCVI score: 0.88
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Minority status and language (score: 0.92)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Socioeconomic status (score: 0.90)

    With 27.6% of the population living below the poverty line, a number double the national average, and the hardships COVID-19 poses to low-income populations, it is understandable that residents of Hamilton County have an increased vulnerability during the pandemic. Not only are the poorest communities often underinsured, but they also often have little to no access to high-quality health care.

  • Georgia

    - State overall CCVI score: 0.68 (#17 most vulnerable among all states)
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Socioeconomic status (score: 0.84)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Minority status and language (score: 0.78)
    - #1 most vulnerable county: Clay County
    --- County overall CCVI score: 1
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Socioeconomic status (score: 1)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Housing type and transportation (score: 0.99)
    - #2 most vulnerable county: Randolph County
    --- County overall CCVI score: 0.99
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Household composition and disability (score: 0.99)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Housing type and transportation (score: 0.97)
    - #3 most vulnerable county: Quitman County
    --- County overall CCVI score: 0.99
    --- #1 area of vulnerability: Socioeconomic status (score: 0.98)
    --- #2 area of vulnerability: Household composition and disability (score: 0.97)

    A highly impoverished community—61.5% of it comprises Black individuals—Randolph County is especially vulnerable to COVID-19. With many residents living in mobile homes, at more than double the state and national rate, this leaves less space for social distancing and possibilities for overcrowding, which present an increased risk of getting sick, according to the World Health Organization.

    You may also like: What are contact tracers? And how many each state needs to safely reopen

     

2018 All rights reserved.