COVID-19 Risk Assessment for Ohio: Identifying Risks for Ongoing Reopening and Resilience to Future Hazards

As our researchers watched Ohio’s response to the pandemic, they wished to contribute meaningfully toward the next stage of disaster response and help to prepare our state for future crises. This risk assessment brief is a comprehensive look, county by county, of factors that put Ohio’s populations at risk for COVID-19, including socio-economic status, mobility, race, overcrowded housing and more.

Beginning in mid-June, both Ohio and the U.S. have experienced a surge of daily confirmed COVID-19 cases. While the causes for the surge are multifaceted and society continues to re-open, how can we identify our most high-risk populations so that proper precautions are taken for those that need it most? 

Graphic by Derek Li for Midstory.

One main focus of news, media and research has been vulnerability factors. Preexisting chronic health conditions may increase residents’ risk for COVID-19. Disproportionately high rates of infection and death from coronavirus were found in communities of color, migrants and people of various ethnic backgrounds. Besides physical health, the current pandemic also impacts people’s mental health conditions. Moreover, socially vulnerable populations are at increased risk of health challenges during disasters due to the lack of access to adequate medical care, transportation, nutrition, etc.  

But vulnerability factors alone don’t tell the whole story. Current spreading conditions of COVID-19 and people’s exposure to the virus are also crucial factors to assess the risk, and thus Midstory’s team of researchers has completed a risk assessment for the state of Ohio that pulls together a variety of existing factors to see which counties are at highest risk for the spread of COVID-19.

This article is brought to you in part by the First Solar Corporate Charitable Fund of the Great Toledo Community Foundation. As a recipient of their Civic Engagement and Environmental Impact Grant, Midstory engages in research and storytelling initiatives that deliver vital information, statistics and narratives on timely issues, such as the water crisis and COVID-19 pandemic.


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