Daily changes in spatial accessibility to intensive care unit (ICU) beds and their relationship with the case-fatality ratio of COVID-19 in the state of Texas

Author(s): Jinwoo Park, Alexander Michels, Fangzheng Lyu, Su Yeon Han, Shaowen Wang

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many patients could not receive timely healthcare services due to limited availability and access to healthcare resources and services. Previous studies found that access to intensive care unit (ICU) beds saves lives, but they overlooked the temporal dynamics in the availability of healthcare resources and COVID-19 cases. To fill this gap, our study investigated daily changes in ICU bed accessibility with an enhanced two-step floating catchment area (E2SFCA) method in the state of Texas. Along with the increased temporal granularity of measurements, we uncovered two phenomena: 1) aggravated spatial inequality of access during the pandemic, and 2) the retrospective relationship between insufficient ICU bed accessibility and the high case-fatality ratio of COVID-19 in rural areas. Our findings suggest that those locations should be supplemented with additional healthcare resources to save lives in future pandemic scenarios.

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Jinwoo Park

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

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