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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 14, 2022
  2. Turner, Richard (Ed.)
    Background With the availability of multiple Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines and the predicted shortages in supply for the near future, it is necessary to allocate vaccines in a manner that minimizes severe outcomes, particularly deaths. To date, vaccination strategies in the United States have focused on individual characteristics such as age and occupation. Here, we assess the utility of population-level health and socioeconomic indicators as additional criteria for geographical allocation of vaccines. Methods and findings County-level estimates of 14 indicators associated with COVID-19 mortality were extracted from public data sources. Effect estimates of the individual indicators were calculated withmore »univariate models. Presence of spatial autocorrelation was established using Moran’s I statistic. Spatial simultaneous autoregressive (SAR) models that account for spatial autocorrelation in response and predictors were used to assess (i) the proportion of variance in county-level COVID-19 mortality that can explained by identified health/socioeconomic indicators (R 2 ); and (ii) effect estimates of each predictor. Adjusting for case rates, the selected indicators individually explain 24%–29% of the variability in mortality. Prevalence of chronic kidney disease and proportion of population residing in nursing homes have the highest R 2 . Mortality is estimated to increase by 43 per thousand residents (95% CI: 37–49; p < 0.001) with a 1% increase in the prevalence of chronic kidney disease and by 39 deaths per thousand (95% CI: 34–44; p < 0.001) with 1% increase in population living in nursing homes. SAR models using multiple health/socioeconomic indicators explain 43% of the variability in COVID-19 mortality in US counties, adjusting for case rates. R 2 was found to be not sensitive to the choice of SAR model form. Study limitations include the use of mortality rates that are not age standardized, a spatial adjacency matrix that does not capture human flows among counties, and insufficient accounting for interaction among predictors. Conclusions Significant spatial autocorrelation exists in COVID-19 mortality in the US, and population health/socioeconomic indicators account for a considerable variability in county-level mortality. In the context of vaccine rollout in the US and globally, national and subnational estimates of burden of disease could inform optimal geographical allocation of vaccines.« less
  3. Assessing the effects of early nonpharmaceutical interventions on coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) spread is crucial for understanding and planning future control measures to combat the pandemic. We use observations of reported infections and deaths, human mobility data, and a metapopulation transmission model to quantify changes in disease transmission rates in U.S. counties from 15 March to 3 May 2020. We find that marked, asynchronous reductions of the basic reproductive number occurred throughout the United States in association with social distancing and other control measures. Counterfactual simulations indicate that, had these same measures been implemented 1 to 2 weeks earlier, substantialmore »cases and deaths could have been averted and that delayed responses to future increased incidence will facilitate a stronger rebound of infections and death. Our findings underscore the importance of early intervention and aggressive control in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.« less
  4. Influenza infects an estimated 9–35 million individuals each year in the United States and is a contributing cause for between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths annually. Seasonal outbreaks of influenza are common in temperate regions of the world, with highest incidence typically occurring in colder and drier months of the year. Real-time forecasts of influenza transmission can inform public health response to outbreaks. We present the results of a multiinstitution collaborative effort to standardize the collection and evaluation of forecasting models for influenza in the United States for the 2010/2011 through 2016/2017 influenza seasons. For these seven seasons, we assembled weeklymore »real-time forecasts of seven targets of public health interest from 22 different models. We compared forecast accuracy of each model relative to a historical baseline seasonal average. Across all regions of the United States, over half of the models showed consistently better performance than the historical baseline when forecasting incidence of influenza-like illness 1 wk, 2 wk, and 3 wk ahead of available data and when forecasting the timing and magnitude of the seasonal peak. In some regions, delays in data reporting were strongly and negatively associated with forecast accuracy. More timely reporting and an improved overall accessibility to novel and traditional data sources are needed to improve forecasting accuracy and its integration with real-time public health decision making.

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