COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - As COVID-19 continues to spread across the country, many Americans still face health-related challenges like chronic respiratory diseases, heart disease, diabetes, and other illnesses that put them at increased risk for severe complications from diseases such as COVID-19.
A groundbreaking tool from the CDC called PLACES (Population Level Analysis and Community Estimates) uses data that is set to inform action to improve health for millions of people in their state and local communities. Dr. Karen Hacker, the Director for Chronic Disease Prevention, says that her goal for the tool is to arm communities with the information needed to create fair opportunities for the health and well-being of all.
“As you know, many of these chronic diseases are really high-risk factors for COVID-19, so in areas where’s, there are high rates of hypertension, diabetes, cancers it really helps you identify where this disproportionate effect is,” Dr. Hacker said.
Dr. Hacker notes that for allocation of resources, information like this can be vital to state and local leaders. “I would think as a community leader, as a jurisdictional leader, you want to get the resources to those communities that are being affected.”
State health departments will work in conjunction with the CDC and the Robert Wood Foundation to utilize this data and bring about positive change for COVID-19 resources and beyond. “We have the immediate issues right now – how do we make sure people know what their risk is? How do we make sure they can use the mitigation strategies given to them by the CDC like mask-wearing, social distancing, hand washing?...being able to see data at that kind of a local level I think it’s really going to help.”
You can find the PLACES tool here.