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Are cities a safe place to live during a pandemic?

In editorials published in the spring on the Brookings website and in NextCity, a nonprofit news organization, Dr Loh and his co-authors argued that some of the very traits that can make cities more dangerous during a pandemic, like population density, may also make them more beneficial in the event of a pandemic.

Urban areas and populated cities may offer wider safety nets than rural areas, Dr Loh said. New York, for example, has many hospitals, specialists, equipment and resources for coronavirus testing.

Cities also tend to offer a greater variety of social support services, said Jenifer E. Allsworth, an epidemiologist at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, including various childcare and public transportation options. (So ​​far, public transport does not appear to contribute significantly to the spread of the coronavirus, provided there is adequate ventilation and drivers wear masks.) And cities tend to have more delivery options for all kinds of items, including food, medicine and cleaning. Provisions.

It is also easier for small businesses like restaurants to use delivery services to stay afloat when there are more potential customers per square mile, a boon to city dwellers who own or operate these businesses. depend. And cities tend to have more job opportunities than rural areas, Dr Loh said.

“Urban areas are more resilient because they have more diverse economies,” she added.

Ultimately, all the experts agreed that when it comes to reducing the risk of getting sick, behavior is more important than location.

“This virus is relentless and it will hunt down anyone who ignores social distancing practices,” said Dr. Lee W. Riley, professor of infectious diseases at the School of Public Health at the University of California at Berkeley. “So it’s not necessarily the type of space people live in, but the type of behavior people adopt in their spaces that ultimately determines who gets infected.”

New York City was able to fend off the virus in late spring and summer by implementing essential public health measures such as shutting down non-essential businesses, adopting masks and encouraging social distancing. Other areas that did not take such precautions, such as parts of the south and upper Midwest, experienced severe surges.

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