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ArXiv Preprint

This study explored how population mobility flows form commuting networks across US counties and influence the spread of COVID-19. We utilized 3-level mixed effects negative binomial regression models to estimate the impact of network COVID-19 exposure on county confirmed cases and deaths over time. We also conducted weighting-based analyses to estimate the causal effect of network exposure. Results showed that commuting networks matter for COVID-19 deaths and cases, net of spatial proximity, socioeconomic, and demographic factors. Different local racial and ethnic concentrations are also associated with unequal outcomes. These findings suggest that commuting is an important causal mechanism in the spread of COVID-19 and highlight the significance of interconnected of communities. The results suggest that local level mitigation and prevention efforts are more effective when complemented by similar efforts in the network of connected places. Implications for research on inequality in health and flexible work arrangements are discussed.

Christopher Seto, Aria Khademi, Corina Graif, Vasant G. Honavar

2020-10-02