Travel distance to COVID-19 testing sites for people with disabilities

Authors: Aynaz Lotfata*, Chicago State University , Yochai Eisenberg, University of Illinois at Chicago
Topics: Disabilities, Urban Geography, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: disability, accessibility, vulnerability, Covid-19, Chicago metropolitan area
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Virtual 26
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


People with disabilities are especially vulnerable to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Having easy access to COVID-19 testing may be important for early diagnosis and effective treatment. We sought to examine the spatial variation of travel times to COVID-19 testing sites across the City of Chicago for people with disabilities. Because testing sites may be physically inaccessible for people with disabilities, we limited the analysis of travel times to only testing sites within larger healthcare centers that have typically made architectural improvements that enable physical access. Data from the American Community Survey 2014-2018 were used to estimate the number of people with disabilities per census tract. A publicly available listing of COVID-19 testing sites was used to map potential destinations. We calculated travel times via motor vehicle from the centroid of all census tracts in the City of Chicago to the nearest testing sites using the origin-destination cost matrix geoprocessing tool. Finally, a land suitability analysis was conducted on the areas which lack covid-19 testing sites within 30 minutes. Results will be shared in tabular and geographic figures highlighting areas that have high travel distances to testing sites. Identifying the number of people with disabilities within different ranges of travel times can help to estimate how many people with disabilities are geographically disadvantaged with regards to distance from appropriate testing sites. The spatial methodology used can be implemented in different contexts to support decisions on where physically accessible COVID-19 testing sites are needed.

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