Milken Institute launches new tool providing a holistic view of what makes communities more vulnerable to COVID-19


News Release

Milken Institute launches new tool providing a holistic view of what makes communities more vulnerable to COVID-19

Ken Sagynbekov, PhD
Ken Sagynbekov, PhD

Adjusting for population, 7 of the 10 counties most affected by COVID-19 are in Georgia and New Jersey.

Washington, D.C. – June 9, 2020 – The COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage communities across the country as government leaders open up parts of the economy. In response, the Milken Institute published an interactive COVID-19 Community Explorer, allowing users to determine what community-wide risk factors can make certain areas more vulnerable to the virus.

At this time, COVID-19 fatalities are disproportionately higher among Black and Latino populations, older adults, and individuals with hypertension and diabetes. In developing this multimedia platform, the Milken Institute Research Department set out to understand what commonalities exist in communities more likely to see a potential resurgence with the virus.

“Our platform and analysis highlight the intersections at play between health, demographics, and socioeconomic indicators,” said Ken Sagynbekov, director of Health Economics at the Milken Institute. “When we consider population size, race, age, or preexisting health conditions, we find that a single characteristic is not responsible for COVID-19 cases and deaths within communities. Rather, it is a combination of factors in underserved communities that contribute to making some areas more vulnerable to the virus.”

The new, comprehensive tool features:

  • An interactive map allowing users to toggle between community characteristics in relation to COVID-19 cases and deaths in more than 2,800 counties.

  • An interactive map highlighting the 100 most affected communities across the country.

  • A table summarizing the key health and social characteristics of the most and least affected counties nationwide. 

“Again, what we see when exploring the data is that determining what communities may see a resurgence for COVID-19 is much more nuanced,” added Sagynbekov. “But the analysis is vital, particularly as we see that the 100 most affected counties represent only 8% of the population, but account for 41% of all COVID-19 deaths and 30% of all cases.”
The COVID-19 Community Explorer is developed using data from publicly available sources, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, USDA, and The New York Times COVID-19 database. Milken Institute welcomes input about the COVID-19 Community Explorer. Please direct your feedback to

10 Most Affected Communities

*see the full list here

1. Early, Georgia 
2. Terrell, Georgia 
3. Hancock, Georgia 
4. Randolph, Georgia
5. Essex, New Jersey
6. Northampton, Virginia
7. Nassau, New York
8. Union, New Jersey
9. Passaic, New Jersey
10. St. John the Baptist, Louisiana

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Enxhi Myslymi
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About the Milken Institute

The Milken Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank that helps people build meaningful lives, in which they can experience health and well-being, pursue effective education and gainful employment, and access the resources required to create ever-expanding opportunities for themselves and their broader communities. For more information, visit

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Published June 9, 2020