King County Monitors the Ongoing Economic, Social, and Health Effects of COVID-19
PUBLIC HEALTH—SEATTLE & KING COUNTY, WASHINGTON
Public Health—Seattle & King County is monitoring key economic, social, and health effects of community mitigation strategies to slow the spread of COVID-19.
March 1, 2021
Community mitigation strategies used to slow pandemics—such as physical distancing policies, mask mandates, avoiding crowds, hand washing or using hand sanitizers, business and school closures, and travel restrictions—can reduce the spread of disease but have other effects on individual health and community well-being. As the local health jurisdiction tasked with protecting the health of its residents, Public Health—Seattle & King County (PHSKC) needed to quickly develop ways to monitor and evaluate the ongoing social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 mitigation response. The first COVID-19 case diagnosed in the United States came through the international airport in King County, Washington, in January 2020, with additional community-acquired cases diagnosed among King County residents in February 2020. As cases began to increase, state and local governments enacted strategies designed to prevent person-to-person spread of the novel coronavirus.
In population health assessments, King County often performs better than the US average but continues to face stark health disparities by race/ethnicity, location, and income. COVID-19 is no exception.
With support from CDC, PHSKC incorporated aspects of CDC’s approach to evaluating COVID-19 community mitigation strategies to track various social, emotional, and economic impacts on the King County community since April 2020. This approach includes:
- Economic indicators (i.e., unemployment claims, hotline calls for assistance with social services, daily local traffic and mobility)
- Social indicators (i.e., food insecurity, domestic violence, household Internet access)
- Health and behavioral health indicators (i.e., Medicaid enrollments, mental health crisis calls, suicide-related emergency department visits, youth suicide ideation)
Where data allow, PHSKC is examining strategies over time, by race/ethnicity, geography, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, occupation, and disability status, as well as comparing with data from previous years.
To inform planning, PHSKC selected metrics that were:
- Timely—New data available daily, weekly, or monthly with no more than a month lag in reporting
- Valid—High-quality data sources with technical reports
- Responsive—Likely to change quickly during and after implementation of COVID-19 mitigation strategies
- Representative—Relevant to a topic area and directly linked to community mitigation efforts
- Disaggregated— Data are analyzed by COVID-19 risk group, race, place, gender, health, and socioeconomic status to identify areas of
To support data-driven decision making, metrics are reported in a publicly available dashboard, topical technical briefs, infographics, and blogs. PHSKC will continue to track the effects of COVID-19 through May 2022 or longer.
These indicators, in conjunction with highlighting the shifting local policies around COVID-19, can inform communities and policymakers’ response-planning efforts by providing useful information to help identify and address unintended effects of the pandemic.
HAVE A STORY? Does your health department have a story of public health progress or achievement to share? Contact email@example.com.
Disclaimer: Field Notes is designed to spotlight success and innovation in state, tribal, local, and territorial (STLT) health agencies. It is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) effort to highlight what is happening on the front lines of public health. The information in Field Notes is provided by STLT agencies external to CDC. Provision of this information is for informational purposes and does not necessarily constitute an endorsement, recommendation, and/or represent the views of CDC.