Tuesday, November 16, 2021

County Health Ranking Factors that Predict COVID Case Mortality in PA

This is the 3rd installment of my posts on case mortality in Pennsylvania.  Before I explained case mortality and looked at counties with the highest rates.  This time I'm looking at which County Health Ranking factors predict COVID Case Mortality at the county level.  This is done to see which health issues occurring in these counties prior to the pandemic predict mortality rates.

County Health Ranking Variable

Correlation with Case mortality (*Significant)

Length of Life


Quality of Life


Health Behaviors


Critical Care


Social and Economic


Physical Environment


Trump %


The above table presents Spearman correlation coefficients for 6 county health ranking sub-measures and Trump % of the vote in 2020 with county case mortality rates.  The length of life, health behaviors, social and economic and Trump% of the vote coefficients were statistically significant and positive.  Scatterplots for these relationships are presented below.

The above plot shows the relationship between the length of life z score (lower is better) for all 67 counties in Pennsylvania and COVID Case mortality.  This relationship accounts for 5.3% of the variability in case mortality.  Sullivan and Juniata counties with high case mortality rates but average length of life scores.

The next graph shows the relationship of health behaviors (lower is better) with COVID case mortality.  This relationship accounts for 6.7% of the variability in case mortality.  As can be seen there is considerable spread in the data.

Social and economic factors (a smaller score is better) was a significant predictor of case mortality but only accounted for 3.1% of the variability in case mortality. Sullivan and Juniata Counties are still outliers for each measure.

Trump's % of the vote is not a factor in County Health Rankings but there is a lot of data showing that counties where Trump is popular having higher COVID rates.  This relationship is stronger than any of the county health ranking factors accounting for 6.9% of the variability in case mortality.  

In a multiple regression model, only the health behaviors measure remains a significant predictor of case mortality.  These county health ranking sub-measures are themselves composites of over 60 individual statistics.  The next step will be to see which of these statistics are significant predictors of case mortality.

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