For the first phase of the ongoing research, the students focused on 100 counties across the U.S. — the two most populous counties of each state — and collected readily accessible data to create their statistical models. The student researchers also focused on seven Southern California counties, including Orange County.
“While predicting county cases and keeping track of these cases, we saw that the case trend between the wealthiest counties was different than the rest of the counties,” said undergraduate researcher Seth Arreola.
“The counties that are wealthier did not experience the same peaks in cases as other counties and had differing rates of positive cases at different times. These results could be useful to policy decisions now and in the future in case a similar pandemic occurs in Southern California and nationally.”
For example, their research showed that counties such Imperial County show a higher number of cases per population size than Ventura County, whose average income is significantly higher. Orange County’s coronavirus pattern is a mixture of the patterns of Imperial and Ventura likely because there is a considerable economic disparity between the cities and neighborhoods within Orange County, the researchers noted.
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