Sociology Department head and professor Tim Liao recently led a "study that examined the association between social and economic inequalities in U.S. counties and COVID-19 infections and deaths." (Chamberlain) The study, entitled "Association of Social and Economic Inequality With Coronavirus Disease 2019 Incidence and Mortality Across US Counties," was conducted with Fernando De Maio, professor of sociology at DePaul University. Dr. Liao spoke to Craig Chamberlain, Social Sciences Editor of the Illinois News Bureau, about the research procedures and findings of the study for this article. Dr. Liao has studied economic inequilaity for much of his career and knew that the relationship between it and COVID-19 required attention and analysis.
Dr. Liao's study found that "U.S. counties with higher income inequality faced higher rates of COVID-19 infections and deaths in the first 200 days of the pandemic...Counties with higher proportions of Black or Hispanic residents also had higher rates, the study found, reinforcing earlier research showing the disparate effects of the virus on those communities. The findings, published last week by JAMA Network Open, were based on county-level data for all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Data sources included the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USAFacts and the U.S. Census Bureau." (Chamberlain)
It is a strenuous process to be published in a JAMA journal, highlighting the importance and reliability of Dr. Liao's study. In an email he reflected, "Publishing in a JAMA journal has been a truly humbling experience: humbled by the thoroughness of the 3 reviewers, the carefulness of the editor in charge and the copyeditor (in 3 rounds), the extremely well-developed online submission system, the efficiency of every step of the reviewing process, and the reach of the publication (so far, over 7.3K views and picked up by 9 news outlets)." The Sociology Department and the University of Illinois are deeply appreciative of Dr. Liao and celebrate his great work. To read the full of the study, click here.