Connected in health: Place-to-place commuting networks and COVID-19 spillovers


Biweekly county COVID-19 data were linked with Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics data to analyze population risk exposures enabled by pre-pandemic, country-wide commuter networks. Results from fixed-effects, spatial, and computational statistical approaches showed that commuting network exposure to COVID-19 predicted an area’s COVID-19 cases and deaths, indicating spillovers. Commuting spillovers between counties were independent from geographic contiguity, pandemic-time mobility, or social media ties. Results suggest that commuting connections form enduring social linkages with effects on health that can withstand mobility disruptions. Findings contribute to a growing relational view of health and place, with implications for neighborhood effects research and place-based policies.

In Health & Place