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Some Boston neighborhoods seem to be getting hit harder by coronavirus than others

Map of Boston showing Covid-19 rates per neighborhood

Rates represent cases per 10,000 residents.

A Boston Public Health Commission report shows higher rates of positive tests for Covid-19 in Hyde Park, Mattapan, parts of Dorchester and East Boston than the rest of the city - with Hyde Park showing the highest rate - one that is more than double that of neighboring West Roxbury.

The data, current through April 2, also shows that roughly 45% of the city's 1,232 diagnosed cases as of mid-day on April 2 have been in people under 40 - and that the numbers are roughly equal between men and women. The vast majority of cases were in people who stayed at home; only 96 required hospitalization. Some 6% of the cases - 68 in all - were among healthcare workers living in Boston.

So far, 10 Bostonians have died from Covid-19 complications.

The report does not attempt to explain the neighborhood numbers; for example, whether they are actually due to higher numbers of infected people or whether they are due to the neighborhoods having more people who, especially in the early days of the outbreak, were more likely to be recommended for one of the then scarce test kits. Or maybe, non-medical front-line workers (police officers, firefighters, T workers, custodians, etc.) are more likely to live there.

At-large City Councilor Julia Mejia, however, sounded an alarm after seeing the map:

Numbers are higher in traditionally low income communities. We must do more to ensure our most vulnerable are well informed.

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PDF icon BPHC Covid-19 report, 4/4/20573.83 KB

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Comments

The bus drivers, hospital orderlies, store clerks, et cetera.

When we come out of this, we have to establish that even if a job could be done by anybody, (not actually the case but still), if it MUST be done by somebody, that somebody deserves safety and dignity.

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That's the way it is and the way it always has been and the way it should not be.
What would happen if they all refused to work? As much as we depend on them, we should support them if they do. Their pay increases could be covered by flattening the pay scale, starting at the top.

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The poor essential workers are afraid to refuse to work. We need the money and we don't want to lose our jobs.

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We should not wait for this to end before changing this.

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Essential people are still employed, well because they’re essential. Your $10 fast food order is not essential nor is it good for your health.

The only essential employees currently not working are teachers and librarians. Everyone else is simply catering to your wants not needs.

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Teachers and librarians are working - from home, just like many other people.

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All these workers are essential too.

That's off the top of my head.
Don't forget first responders, health care workers, transit workers.

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Lots of essential workers have to eat. Lots of essential workers are tired and not getting enough sleep or time at home. Lots of essential workers are eating fast food on the way to work or on the way home. Lots of essential workers need to eat, if you don't mind much. If they're open, sometimes other people can eat there too.

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Nurses, police, firefighters, are very essential workers living in every neighborhood in Boston! Many other essential workers are teachers, therapists, etc. also living throughout Boston. So many more & so much wrong with painting with your broad, grossly inaccurate brush! Most of our workforce is also putting themselves in harms way- to help in this crisis. Don’t be so quick to try and imply something here!

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Can the city map out the streets in these neighborhoods where these covid19 cases are located , at least for concerned neighbors.
Doesn’t take a brain surgeon for the public to figure this one out, Emergency alert logs on Twitter can pinpoint the exact locality, address and time .

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than from your neighbors.

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It's a social disease. You catch it from the people you hang around with and socialize with. This is why social isolation has a chance of working, to lower the spreading rate. You can't give it to your friends (and vice versa) if you are not in contact with them. An occasional supermarket visit, with proper precautions, should be relatively safe. BUT...
...if you work in the supermarket, you're coming into contact with hundreds of people every day, That's a social interaction with many people, some who inevitably have it (at this stage, I guess) and are asymptomatic. So, working there has its dangers. Shopping, less so. You have one contact, at checkout, but the cashier has hundreds.
Perhaps it's because Hyde Park has a lot of people that work for a living interacting on a daily basis with the public. Police, firefighters, nurses, postal workers, people that work in Roche Bros or S&S, all have an exposure to the public outside of their social circle.

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Wouldn't any surface touched by an infected person be a potential source of infection? That's WAY more than one point of contact.

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When I go into a store I wear gloves, and the ONLY things I touch are the items I pick up to buy and my credit card at checkout. Now that the CDC advice calls for wearing a mask, I’ll add that. I don’t go into an aisle unless what I want has no one standing by it. All in all, while still scary, I find I can goin and out without being too near anyone and without touching much of anything.

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Yes so please wear masks to protect the supermarket workers.

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Small Grocery stores should be closed because it’s where people join together and scratch lottery tickets...especially in East Boston... If more of these small stores close less people will be out.

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My neighborhood very much depends on two of them, Pemberton Farms and bfresh.

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For a lot of us, these small stores are lessening the need to go to the actual grocery store, which has benefits across the board for everyone. And this isn’t happening at every single little shop.

Rather, something should be done about loitering after purchase, and in general. There’s no difference between sticking around to scratch your ticket and around to eat a slice of pizza. Whatever rules/laws are applying to restaurants should apply contextually across the board, and be enforced.

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East Boston is a logical location where a Marriott Longwharf employee would live. Hyde Park could be the policeforce. the rest of Dorchester a mix of "essential" retail, maintenance cleaners etc.

A look at the low density ring around Brookline may be the people who work on line from the diningroom table.

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Hey, how about those Airplane cleaners many from East Boston that unknowingly were exposed weeks before the lockdowns were in place .

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Um, no...

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Sure. Make sure to add your address so when you get it people can come to your home and harass or assault you.

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I thought this may match up to density, but after looking at maps like this (albeit from the 2010 census), that doesn't look to be all that true. Back Bay/South End, Central, and Fenway/Kenmore have higher densities generally.

Looks more to be inversely proportional to income levels though. This map from 2012 illustrates that (with the exception of likely student housing in Allston/Brighton, Fenway/Kenmore, etc.).

Probably a combination of both would match up the best. With places that have houses further apart (West Roxbury, Roslindale, etc.) as well as higher income earners.

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Because, like you said, density doesn't seem to be correlating to cases - West Roxbury and Hyde Park are probably the city's leafiest neighborhoods.

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I would guess that a lot of people who have a place outside of the city, left.

Whether it be a vacation home or young adults going back to their parents. There’s no reason to stay locked up in a small downtown apartment when you have somewhere else with more space.

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It's who has a job they can do from home.

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That may be true of downtown, but not Back Bay, Beacon Hill or the North End. We're all still here. I for one don't have a second home! Boston is my home.

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break were extremely stupid. They just wanted to have fun, and they didn't care who ended up getting sick as a result of coming into contact with somebody who has covid-19, or who they gave it too. This stupidity will come home to roost, as those college kids who went to florida and other places will come home and make their parents, grandparents, and other family members ill. It's disgusting how a lot of people really don't give a shit.

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With “only” 1200 cases, the difference between “good” Southie and “bad” Eastie might be about three dozen cases. Given what we’ve seen with super-spreader events, that’s well within the range of pure chance.

I’m glad the BPHC is paying attention to this, I just don’t know that it means much yet.

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I think you nailed it. Something just looks off with this - like, the numbers are no doubt accurate, but as to drawing your own conclusions .. seems questionable or even dangerous.

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It is about density. Lower density = fewer cases needed to drive the rate per persons up.

The densest neighborhoods have the lowest rate, the least dense have the highest rate, except for East Boston which is probably a function of service jobs, use of the confined Blue Line, and exposure to airport travelers.

Airport hubs have been hit hardest by the virus.

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New York City is reporting that there are more cases where people are living in tight quarters, which often but not always correlates with lower incomes. They're also seeing a lot of cases in the Hasidic Jewish neighborhoods, which seems to be partly because of large families (with several mostyu school-agedchildren living at home) and partly because, for whatever reasons, more people there are ignoring the instructions to stay home and not gather unnecessarily. Or, perhaps, defining "necessary" more broadly: maybe these two people need to get married now, but they can do so without a hundred wedding guests.

(New York City's informational fliers are in a lot of languages, including Yiddish.)

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The two maps don't correlate well at all. The two areas with the highest rates in the COVID-19 map, Hyde Park and East Boston, are in the middle-to-upper income range in the other map.

I don't think this reveals anything. I agree with what Colin says further down. It's interesting, but don't make too much of it.

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When I think of the neighborhoods listed, I also think of the modes of transportation. Some of the areas with higher cases might have more folks relying on public transportation. As was seen in NYC, a key factor to the transmission in a place where many rely on trains and buses.

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The people who can't afford to live in the Seaport but still are the backbone of services in this city are getting Covid-19 at higher rates than people who think Castle Island is the place to be to not social distance?

Just wondering.

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I've noticed a lot of people in Eastie just not bothering with social distancing in situations where it's very easy to do. I've headed down to Maverick Square sparingly in the past few weeks, but every time I do there seem to be people hanging out in the middle of sidewalks and/or in front of stores.

Even walking down my street, I'll hug the curb or buildings if someone else is coming in the opposite direction, and then they'll still often just walk down the middle of the sidewalk or even 2-3 people across. I've gotten to the point of (carefully) walking out in the road a bit to avoid people and legit crossed crossed my street 3 times on the way back from the PO this morning.

Memorial Park is also a great place to safely go out for a walk or run; it's huge and easy to stay away from people....in theory. But again, it's like some people are going out of their way NOT to avoid coming close to others, even when those who do care actively try to create some distance. And the soccer fields and stadium have still been very active on nice days.

It's really not that hard to take 5 steps in any given direction to distance from people, but apparently it's hard to actually care.

/endrant.

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Eastie State rep or City councilor should be traveling around East Boston in a car with a bull horn and a Spanish translator and asking people to stop walking around neighborhood and hanging out in local convenient stores scratching tickets.

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I agree, these leaders should be out there canvassing the neighborhood hands on approach. I’ve been seeing it in the last two weeks the elderly walking several blocks alone to Shaw’s, they need rides, school buses are not being used now, it great opportunity to use them for picking up the vulnerable. people in wheel chairs need assistance to the supermarket also.

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Nothing says social distancing like a bus full of high risk folks, ya?

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It would be interesting to see how this case density map compares to maps of neighborhoods of highest-lowest of English being a second language or more specifically that languages other than English are the primary language spoken in the home. I'm pretty sure the state and the city put their notices & advisories in multiple languages, but how well are languages other than English represented in news media?
...
Another interesting area to study for correlation would be a map showing density of immigrant (especially illegal alien) population - thanks to ham-handed approach to immigration matters, such populations might be more disinclined to seek examination or treatment until they're sure they're "really" sick, by which point they've infected many others.

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How many live with 1-10 people? How many traveled internationally recently? How many went to NY recently? How many live in clustered old age homes? How many got their whole family tested? How many are still in the hospital but are counted as their homes? How many are now recovered? How many does Brookline, Dedham, Milton, and Newton have?

Still interesting data, but there are so many questions that trying to analyse it is almost futile to us.

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This is a world wide pandemic. No matter what language a person uses for social media and the news, they are aware.

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Are the specific statements being made by the Major, Governor, CDC, and so on, being translated and relayed to them, with the same level of intensity that the original English statements are being disseminated? Just because "everyone knows" this is a pandemic does not mean the useful, substantive information (actual information which will help them lower chances of catching it) is getting to them.

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In my relatively small but enough to be concerning sample size, this hasn't skewed towards any specific gender, age group, ethnicity, or other demographics. Just a .5 mile trip to the post office and a Dunks pickup today alone ran the gamut.

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East Boston is teeming with people, and it doesn’t strike me that it’s the immigrant population.

I just went for a walk and had the same experience you described - few people made an effort to put distance between themselves and others. Most people were not wearing masks. And while I would have thought perhaps the immigrant population would be most likely to be unaware of the current advice on social distancing and masks, it seemed to not be the case. Sure, you can’t tell someone’s situation by quick glance but there’s a lot of white people out and about in the maverick area.

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In Eastie, I'm staying in and almost all the foot traffic I see through the windows is white people walking their new dogs.

If anything POC (can't exactly confirm immigration status from a distant glance) are the most common mask-wearers.

Joggers and dog-walkers are overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly don't care.

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The Universal Church in East Boston also has a steady stream of people coming and going. I thought churches were supposed to do the decent thing and close, broadcast online, etc, but this one seems to be operating in some sort of surreptitious way. I'm not sure exactly what's going on in there.

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How does this jibe with asthma rates?

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People with asthma, regardless of age, are much more at risk for contracting covid-19, but they're at even greater risk for complications as a result of this virus, as well.

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Can you post a link to some studies that asthmatics are at higher risk for contracting covid19?

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This is absolutely wrong. Being asthmatic DOES NOT make you more (or less) likely to contract COVID. No preexisting condition makes you more or less likely. It does, however, potentially have complicating factors which make you more at risk for severity IF you contract the virus. That said there is also limited evidence about how much of a complicating factor it really is. I recommend you look at https://health.usnews.com/conditions/articles/coronavirus-and-asthma for more information.

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And put them in there. Probably very relevant.

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Is a pre-existing condition.

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Can we get a real Epidemiologist to look at this analysis? This analysis is incomplete, misleading and dangerous! Where do I begin?
1. It purports to show the number of COVID-19 cases in Boston neighborhoods. However, most residents have not been tested. The number of cases that test positive is clearly a function of the number of people tested. It would be more helpful to know the percentage of people tested in each neighborhood and, of these, the percentage who test positively. If more people from Hyde Park than West Roxbury were tested than of course the HP 'rate' will be higher than WR.
2. Given that age is a factor in COVID-19, it is possible that more seniors have been tested. Therefore, in this type of analysis, age-adjusted rates should be used.
3. Because the numbers are small, a couple of cases will make a huge difference. Why aren’t confidence intervals shown?
4. What’s my take away from this analysis? If I live in HP, I am safer doing grocery shopping in WR? I’m safer taking a walk in JP than in Mattapan?
5. Finally, there is a problem with how this is being interpreted. Read the comments, readers are connecting high rates to immigrants and lack of English.

This is misleading and dangerous! What is going on in the Boston Public Health Commission?

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DPH is only publishing cumulative numbers. The actual number of people hospitalized, the number of people in ICU's, and the number of people on ventilators, will give a more accurate picture of what is happening. Simply posting a number indicating tested or presumed cases is just feeding the frenzy and makes it look worse than it is.

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It's data. Can you not tell the difference?

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Exactly. They should remove it.

Yes, it's data and yes it's reliable. But .. look what conclusions people have already made ..

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The data itself is useful. Removing the data because some people fearfully jump to conclusions is foolish.

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Well-articulated, Odarod!

Insufficient data without proper and full context leads to erroneous analysis.

Although I figure the BPHC is seeking to be be helpful (and I can appreciate its effort), this seems a bit irresponsible to me.

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Have the most nursing homes, homeless shelters, subway stations and sober homes. These critical establishments could be a factor in the number of higher cases. Another factor in some neighborhoods was the mass exodus of thousands of college students that could account for lower numbers in certain neighborhoods.

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We cant get anymore hunkered down than we already are.
Uggggg.
How much rice a roni and chicken breasts can a family eat before a family revolt happens?

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As usual much is made about very little

The largest number of cases by neighborhood was 175 in "Lower Dorchester" with 2nd and 3rd highest in Upper Dorchester [131] and East Boston [130] -- somewhat geographically diverse

The lowest number of cases was in Charlestown [29] with West Roxbury [38] and Fenway [46 ] the next two and three -- more geographic and demographic diversity

However -- we have no way of knowing where any of the people who live in the various neighborhoods got infected

Nor do we have any idea how severe the cases are -- some might be hardly distinguishable from a mild to medium strength Flu, while others might require an ICU-level of care

Finally -- we have no way of knowing how many people in each of the neighborhoods actually have or have had the COVID-19 without actually becoming official [as in being tested and found positive]

So neither the raw numbers of cases, the location and population of the neighborhood or the derived quantity of rate of occurrence of the COVID-19 per 10,000 residents is particularly significant

Moral of the story -- there are lies damn lies and statistics

PS: I was going to get into the whole matter of statistical significance and small numbers of samples, etc., -- but I decided to leave that for another post

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People who rely on public transit

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Without widespread testing, these number are almost meaningless. I know many symptomatic people who have not been tested and never will be because, luckily, they have not been admitted to an ICU.

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Allston/Brighton: Low because all the students have gone home, so you have a lot of vacant housing.

West Roxbury: Older population who are very compliant as they don't want to get sick.

JP: Very attuned to the news and thus very compliant to social distancing.

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They're farther from the coastline but ^this^ works too.

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Maybe people in some neighborhoods are getting tested more than others. We do not have enough testing, for sure. There are likely many reasons for the differences among districts. Given the lack of leadership at the federal level, I deeply appreciate the concern, competence and sharing of information we enjoy in Boston and Massachusetts. Honesty builds trust.

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How can Roslindale at 21.6 be colored as "similar to the rest of Boston" yet South Dorchester with the exact same 21.6 number get colored as "higher than the rest"? Doesn't seem right.

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I am hoping Julia Mejia will be addressing the best and most effective way to use the information from the Map ... The Map shows were people live, but not how they travel (public or private transportation ), not where they shop or where they have been, not where they work... Or any other commonalities ... So the information is inconclusive ... But the comments section clearly shows that even those who state their ideas of minimizing the spread and what they do, the details ... Most important details about the spread are missed (which represents the sane points being missed in the community )... Specially, for an example, a person stated how they shopped in a market protecting them selves with gloves, but never me mentioned the most important action and what the point of contact would be with the most people. They stated they pulled out their credit card. Here’s the concerns and choices. Did they take off the glove before accessing the card ? Did they wipe down the Credit card terminal before putting the card in ? Is this a new glove they are touching the terminal with ? When they put back the card is the card now dirty or clean ? Most importantly, did they wipe down the terminal after they touched it or just walk away ? It can continue with touching the door on the way out of the store, to the vehicle door or handrail of the public transport or Uber/Lift vehicle... And at home .. The bag should not enter the kitchen or table or counter area...it should be left maybe sprayed with a cleaner .. then unpacked before all these products are brought into the home ... That’s just one example of the points I saw left from comments that addressed solutions to the spread ... If community residents aren’t thoughtful enough to change their glove and more importantly clean things they and others will touch then the numbers will continue... That’s for many ailments... If there’s not enough focus for the details and thought about them .. then it is what it is and hopefully our bodies will build up an immunity and it will pass ...
I am hoping Mrs Mejia will encourage the community to be thoughtful enough to clean things before and after they touch them, where or not you or the NE t person had a glove, because what will that person touch next ...?

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Can't help but notice a loose correlation w/ where I know the poorer and/or minority neighborhoods to be. Can someone who has the data make the actual comparison and see how strong this correlation actually is?

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