Relative Concentrations and Diffusion of COVID-19 Across the United States in 2020

Authors: Samuel Otterstrom*, Brigham Young University, Leonard Hochberg, Mackinder Forum
Topics: Population Geography, Medical and Health Geography, Urban Geography
Keywords: COVID-19 geography, disease diffusion, United States, Hoover index of concentration, differential geographical index, trade areas
Session Type: Virtual Guided Poster
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 53
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In this paper, we analyze the spread of COVID-19 (corona virus disease 2019) cases and deaths across the United States using county data at different levels of comparison. We use the Hoover index and the differential geographical index to analyze the changes in the concentration of COVID-19 at the city-system level (or economic trade area) from May 2020 to December 2020. We also map the individual county differential geographical (DG) index to show the relative distribution of COVID-19 cases and deaths in counties compared with national averages. We find that the disease has rapidly diffused and deconcentrated across the city-systems in terms of Hoover indices, and that by December 2020 many city regions had changed from very concentrated COVID-19 levels to greater dispersion than the general population. This event suggests a sizeable degree of rural diffusion in the last months of 2020. Differential geographical indices for the same city-systems also indicate a convergence of population and COVID-19 death geographies. Individual county statistics show clusters of high and low deaths compared with national norms that shifted from the Northeast to the Southeast, and by December included clusters to the Midwest and central portion of the country among other areas.

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