University of Wisconsin–Madison Medical College of Wisconsin

Population-Level Disease Prevalence Rates Correlate With COVID-19 Mortality

George L. Morris, III, MD, MPH

WMJ. 2023;122(2):101-104.

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Introduction: Initial reports identified preexisting conditions associated with COVID-19 mortality risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 500 Cities Project provides prevalence rate estimates at the census tract level for these conditions. The frequency of these individual condition prevalence rates may associate with the census tracts with greater risk of COVID-19 deaths.

Objective/Research Question: Can the census tract-level outcome of Milwaukee County COVID-19 death rates correlate with the census tract-level COVID-19 individual mortality risk condition prevalence rates?

Methods: This study used the 296 Milwaukee County, Wisconsin census tracts’ COVID-19 death rates per 100,000 lives to perform a linear regression with individual COVID-19 mortality risk condition prevalence rates, obtained from the CDC’s 500 Cities Project, and a multiple regression with 7 condition prevalence rates. The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner provided census tract identified deaths from COVID-19 from March 2020 through May 2020. Crude death rates for these 3 months per 100,000 population were analyzed in a multiple linear regression versus prevalence rates for these conditions in each census tract.

Results: There were 295 assessable COVID-19-related deaths in Milwaukee County in early 2020. The model of crude death rates showed statistical significance with the condition prevalence rates in Milwaukee County. A regression analysis of each condition’s prevalence rate showed no association with crude death rates.

Conclusions: This study supports a correlation between high COVID-19 mortality rate census tracts and prevalence rate estimates of conditions associated with high individual COVID-19 mortality rates. The study is limited by the small COVID-19 death sample and the use of a single location. The ability to focus COVID-19 health promotion may save future lives if mitigation strategies are applied extensively in these neighborhoods.

Author Affiliation: School of Public Health, Imperial College London (Morris).
Corresponding Author: George L. Morris III, MD, MPH; email; ORCID ID 0000-0002-8930-1437
Funding/Support: None declared.
Financial Disclosures: None declared.
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