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Study Shows Low-Income LA Neighborhoods Are Most At Risk Of COVID-19

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) - A new research model out of UCLA  found that neighborhoods with low incomes and high rates of heart disease, obesity and diabetes are most susceptible to coronavirus.

The authors of the research study said the at-risk neighborhoods consist of 73 percent Black residents, followed by 70 percent Latinos and 60 percent Cambodians, Hmongs and Laotians.

These neighborhoods with high social vulnerability are classified by lower incomes, higher prevalence of single-parent households, and poorer English-language ability, among other factors.

The neighborhoods were studied to determine what areas of Los Angeles County should have priority COVID-19 vaccine access when it becomes available, a UCLA statement said.

The model looked at four main factors to map each neighborhood: socioeconomic challenges, preexisting medical conditions, barriers to accessing health care, and built-environment characteristics.

"The research data demonstrate that neighborhoods characterized by significant clustering of racial and ethnic minorities, low-income households and unmet medical needs are most vulnerable to COVID-19 infection, specifically areas in and around South Los Angeles and the eastern portion of the San Fernando Valley," the authors of the study said in a statement.

The statement went on to say that communities along the coast and the northwestern part of L.A. are least vulnerable to COVID-19, and are disproportionately white and higher-income. Only 60% of white residents live in areas with low or the lowest vulnerability.

"We thought the elderly and people in nursing homes were the most vulnerable, yet we found that lacking a number of social resources contributes to a greater likelihood of getting infected as well," said research author Vickie Mays, a professor of health policy and management and of psychology at UCLA.

The UCLA public health and urban planning experts said Wednesday the predictive model can assist officials in effectively distributing a vaccine. The model can be applied to other counties and jurisdictions as well.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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