counties where Americans are most vulnerable to disasters | Health news from the healthiest communities
At least a quarter of residents in more than 40% of US counties possess at least three characteristics that indicate they are more vulnerable in a disaster or other emergency strike, according to estimates from US Census Bureau data.
Nationally, 21.6% of residents have three or more of these risk factors, according to the office’s Community Resilience Estimates, which are based on data from the 2019 U.S. Community Survey and Program. census bureau population estimate. Estimates highlight prevalence of particularly vulnerable individuals and communities in the United States
Community resilience estimates were presented by the Census Bureau last year as an experimental tool to help assess which communities were most vulnerable to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The effort generated such interest that the office says now it will be offered regularly âto help decision makers plan how best to serve their communityâ.
Many communities face localized stressors such as extreme weather events, economic downturns and civil unrest in addition to issues affecting the nation as a whole. But not all community members can be affected in the same way – climatic events such as extreme heat, for example, can have a greater impact on older or impoverished members of a community.
“Some groups are less likely to have the capacity and resources to overcome the obstacles presented during a dangerous event”, dashboard for states estimates of community resilience. “Resilience estimates can help stakeholders and public health officials model these differential impacts and develop plans to reduce the potential effects of a disaster.”
The latest estimates at the aggregate level are based on 10 risk factors at the individual and family level. Individual risk factors include whether a person is 65 years of age or older, has no health insurance, or has a disability “causing a strain on an important activity of life”. Other factors include a household’s income / poverty ratio, level of employment, access to high-speed internet, access to a vehicle, and communication skills.
The estimates categorize U.S. residents into three groups: those with zero risk factors, those with one or two risk factors, and those with three or more risk factors. Overall, the southern counties appear to have more residents with a greater number of risk factors, while the Midwestern and Northeastern counties appear capable of more resilience, according to estimates.
In La Salle County, Texas, for example, 58% of residents had three or more risk factors. In Carver County, Minnesota, only 12% of residents did so, while about 55% had no risk factors. In eight counties – with populations ranging from around 2,000 to over 71,000 – more than half of residents had three or more risk factors, according to estimates:
Across the states and the District of Columbia, Mississippi recorded the highest share with more than 28% of residents having at least three risk factors. In Utah, only about 14% have reached this threshold.
The Census Bureau also released a equity supplement to provide additional context to community resilience estimates and âadd to the equity discussionâ. The supplement includes race and ethnicity data for states and communities, among other information, and indicates whether data points are statistically different between the nation and smaller geographic areas.