Population Health Research Brief Series

The Gig is Up: Supporting Non-Standard Workers Now and After Coronavirus

Tyra Jean
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A recent Gallup study found that 36% of the U.S. labor force (which equates to 57 million people) are gig workers.1 From Lyft drivers to sex workers, gig-work (also known as non-standard work) involves a formal or informal contract between a company or person who compensates the laborer in a (typically) monetary form.2 Gig-workers include freelancers, independent contractors, on-call workers, and temporary workers.

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Tips for Communicating with Older Adults about COVID-19

Claire Pendergrast
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Older adults (individuals aged 60 or older), and especially those with severe chronic medical conditions, are at higher risk for more serious coronavirus illness and death.1 Given the severe health risks coronavirus presents for this age group, effective risk communication is critical for informing older adults about how coronavirus threatens their health, how they can protect themselves, and where they can go for support. There is no “one size fits all” approach for health communication,2 and it is essential for friends, family, health professionals, and public officials to be thoughtful about their approach to communicating with older adults during coronavirus. 

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COVID-19 Testing Rates are Lower in States with More Black and Poor Residents

Shannon M. Monnat and Kent Jason G. Cheng
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COVID-19 testing is essential to help reduce spread, strategically deliver treatment resources, and devise appropriate policy responses. There is already evidence that U.S. states with more confirmed infections (which can only be determined with testing) are more likely than their peer states with fewer confirmed cases to enact physical distancing protocols, thereby dramatically reducing travel and other mechanisms for virus spread. Resource constraints and different reactions by state governors have resulted in widespread testing variation across states.

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Truly Promoting Diversity on College Campuses Means Supporting Persons in Recovery from Substance Use Disorders

Austin McNeill Brown
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Given high rates of alcohol use and the heavy drinking culture on most college campuses, students living in long-term recovery from substance use disorder are often an invisible population on college campuses nationwide. They are also an institutionally under-served population.

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COVID-19 is a Major Risk to New York State’s Older Veterans

Mariah Brennan Nanni and Mary Helander
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The older adult veteran population is at high risk of contracting the novel coronavirus. Confirmed cases of COVID-19 mirror the population density of older veterans in New York State. Communities with large veterans populations, such as Buffalo, Rochester, Utica, and NYC, have seen rapid increases confirmed cases of coronavirus.

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New York State’s Older Adults in Assisted Living Facilities Need All of Us to Help Them Avoid the Coronavirus

Mary E. Helander and Claire Pendergrast
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There are 50,308 beds in licensed assisted living facilities1 and 114,988 certified nursing home beds (with 90% average occupancy) in New York State.2  Yet, assisted living facilities receive disproportionately less media coverage and policy attention than nursing homes with respect to coronavirus risks and consequences for older adults. Recent deaths in a Florida assisted living facility demonstrate that we need to be paying much more attention to coronavirus risks in these facilities.3 

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Why Coronavirus Could Hit Rural Areas Harder

Shannon Monnat
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As rates of coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and death continue to rise, it is important to consider how rural areas may be differentially affected. On the one hand, rural parts of the U.S. may be comparatively better off than urban places due to lower population density in rural areas. Lower population density reduces opportunities for virus spread. On the other hand, there are several features of rural populations and places that increase their risk of coronavirus-related mortality and other long-term health impacts.

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Staying Safe and Healthy During Coronavirus Response: A Guide for Older Adults

Claire Pendergrast and Mary Helander
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Older adults are at greater risk for several reasons. Our immune function, or our bodies’ ability to fight off new infections like coronavirus, declines with age. In addition, people with chronic diseases have lower immune function, making it harder to ward off infections. Older adults are more likely to have chronic diseases than younger age groups. However, not all older adults experience the same level of risk from coronavirus. Those with more chronic conditions or those in the oldest age groups (in their 80s and 90s) are at greatest risk.2

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