Poverty Lab COVID-19 Testing

Access the analysis and recommendations to policymakers.

Download the press release.

The COVID-19 pandemic is imposing uneven economic and health burdens on different communities in Illinois. Until a vaccine or effective therapy is available, intensive testing and monitoring of the disease will be necessary to prevent community spread and facilitate economic reopening. Unfortunately, existing inequities are likely to inhibit these efforts by creating barriers to accessing healthcare.

This analysis by researchers at the University of Chicago Poverty Lab suggests that communities with high shares of residents without health insurance and residents who are undocumented face additional barriers to testing and care. 

Other community-level characteristics including racial composition, household size, density of essential workers and population density, do not appear to be significant predictors of test positivity rates.

Expanding testing sites alone will likely be insufficient to address these disparities, and policymakers should pursue a holistic approach in partnership with affected communities. Finally, it is important to note that this analysis does not speak to the differential mortality risk associated with COVID-19 in different communities, a critical issue that is beyond the scope of the current report.

All analyses have been conducted using IDPH ZIP code information from May 1, 2020 through May 17, 2020.

Where COVID-19 Testing Lags Community Need in Illinois COVID-19 Testing Capacity Press Release