Risk factors About 6% of the population of the southwest Houston area was deemed at risk for requiring crit- ical care in an intensive care unit if infected by the coronavirus, according to a preliminary study by UT Health. That is double the risk for the population just north of Hwy. 59 in the Montrose and River Oaks area. In other areas, such as Deer Park and Chan- nelview, the percentage of residents at this level of risk reaches up to 14%. While some communities, such as Bellaire, West University and Meyerland, benet from having higher average income levels and better access to health care than other areas of the city, the age of their populations, which skews older, could put res- idents at a greater risk of the most severe outcomes of the illness. “What we’re seeing is that it’s not that young chil- dren or young adults don’t get ill—and some really do get severely ill—but they have more mild dis- ease,” said Jill Weatherhead, assistant professor of infectious disease at the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor University. In acknowledgment of that vulnerable population,
Bellaire and West University Place have started sup- port programs for area seniors, including grocery deliveries and social outreach. Residents age 65 and older make up about 14%-15% of each city, a concen- tration of seniors that is 50% higher than in Harris County overall. “Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the Good Neighbor Team and Senior Services sta have heightened eorts to keep these seniors connected and to assist with special needs,” said Susan White, West University’s parks and recreation director. Gulfton sees another set of risk factors, such as high population density, higher incidences of chronic illness, poverty, immigration system fears and less access to health care. “I was just sitting on my patio, and I saw a family that is serving as a day care site for families that have to go to work, and they have three generations living in one apartment and teenagers coming and going,” Rodriguez said. “The needs here make it so much harder to try to comply with social distancing.” In Harris County, an estimated 5.6% of households have more than one person living in each room. In the Gulfton area, it is closer to 18%, according to
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advocating on the behalf of the most vulnerable and at-risk members of her community, including her 65-year-old mother, who cleans and maintains hotels. In southwest Houston, a convergence of risk fac- tors, such as aging populations and poor access to health care for some, could bring about a higher per- centage of hospitalizations among residents than other areas of the city, data from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston suggests. For areas such as Gulfton, nestled alongside Bel- laire, health ocials must also take into account the area’s density. Gulfton contains over 14,600 people per square mile, making it more dense than Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia. However, density alone is not necessarily a risk factor, and after two months of the coronavirus outbreak upending daily life, more data is emerging about risk factors that make certain areas of town more susceptible to the most severe consequences of an infection.
Cases across N E I G H B O R H O O D S While the city of Houston overall has a prevalence of COVID-19 of about 12 cases per 10,000 residents as of April 20, some neighborhoods have several times that number. Case counts are still highly dependent on access to public and private testing.
Snapshot of G U L F T O N V S . B E L L A I R E Bellaire’s neighboring community of Gulfton is about three times its population in roughly the same square mileage. It has some of the demographic risk factors making it vulnerable to COVID-19, including lack of health coverage and poverty.
3.4 square miles
3.6 square miles
P O P U L AT I O N 54,984
P O P U L AT I O N 18,733
6,210 H O U S E H O L D S I N P O V E R T Y $27,608 M E D I A N H O U S E H O L D I N C O M E N O I N S U R A N C E C O V E R A G E
318 H O U S E H O L D S I N P O V E R T Y $201,629 M E D I A N H O U S E H O L D I N C O M E N O I N S U R A N C E C O V E R A G E
Number of cases per 10,000 residents*
13-20 20-32 32-56
SOURCE: U.S. CENSUS, CITY OF HOUSTONCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
*AS OF APRIL 20
COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM
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