Context: Segregation has been linked to unequal life chances. Individuals from marginalized communities experience more crime, higher levels of poverty, poorer health, and less civic engagement. In addition, segregated metropolitan regions have been found to display inequality in access to basic services. This article builds on these findings by linking segregation to infection and deaths from COVID-19.
Methods: Using census data matched to COVID infection and death statistics at the county level, this article offers a theoretical basis for the researchers' choice of segregation measures and predictions for different racial groups. It analyzes the relationship between two dimensions of segregation—racial isolation and racial unevenness—and COVID outcomes for different racial and ethnic groups.
Findings: In counties where Black and Latino residents lived in more racially isolated neighborhoods, they were much more likely to contract COVID-19. This pattern was exacerbated in counties with a high proportion of frontline workers. In addition, racial segregation increased COVID-19 death rates for Black, Latino, and white residents.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that devastating outcomes of the coronavirus pandemic were linked to a long history of racial marginalization and entrenched discrimination produced by structural inequalities embedded in our geographies. This knowledge should be used to inform public health planning.