Where is COVID-19 impacting non-health needs most?

Setting aside the health impact of COVID-19, where has the economic impact of the pandemic been the greatest? According to new analyses of requests to 2-1-1 helplines across the U.S., counties in Florida, California and Hawaii top the list. Since the pandemic began, 2-1-1s have received 4.6 million requests linked to specific counties. Of these, 534,060 are related to COVID-19 and health, for example, seeking information about testing. When we eliminated health-related COVID requests, we could see which counties were experiencing the greatest pre- to post-COVID increases in economic related needs, such as housing, food and utilities. Such requests were up 211% in Escambia County, FL followed by Santa Clara County, CA (+207%), Honolulu County, HI (+194%), Prince George’s County, MD (+193%), Minnehaha County, SD (+176%), and Atlantic County, NJ (+161%). The bar chart and map below show the 15 counties with the largest increases. Analyses also show which needs are driving the increased demand in each county. On the map, mouse over each circle to see the specific types of requests that grew the most from pre- to post-COVID. For example, in Honolulu County, requests related to employment and income grew over 400%, likely reflecting the impact of lost tourism during the pandemic. In Prince George’s County, utility payment assistance requests grew by over 600%, while in Monroe County, NY, food requests were up 1500%. Analyses examined data from 2-1-1 Counts, a daily tracking system of community needs, currently used by 2-1-1s in 35 states. Analyses that include COVID-related health requests can be seen in a prior report, whose inclusion criteria for counties were replicated here. Dates for the pre- to post-COVID comparison are January 1 – March 11, 2020 (pre) and March 12 to November 10 (post) for all states except HI, which did not include data past October 24, 2020.

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