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Study: Evictions have led to more than 10K additional COVID deaths, 430K COVID cases

Posted at 1:00 PM, Dec 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-22 13:00:28-05

New research suggests the CDC’s eviction moratorium has helped reduce the spread of COVID by a considerable amount.

One of the main ways state and local governments have tried to curb the growth in coronavirus cases have been through stay-at-home orders, but remaining at home can be close to impossible for the tens of thousands of Americans that have been evicted during the pandemic.

“We start to see cases and deaths increase at significant levels about 7 to 10 weeks after the eviction moratorium lifts,” said Kathryn Leifheit, lead researcher of the study conducted at UCLA.

The study is awaiting peer review, but it suggests that more than 10,000 COVID-19 deaths and 430,000 COVID-19 cases can be attributed to evictions that took place in 27 states across the country before the federal government enacted its eviction moratorium in September.

“We had this hypothesis that evictions might lead people to move into households with their friends or family, or in a worst-case scenario move into homeless shelters,” said Leifheit.

The study found the biggest number of cases happened in southern states where eviction moratoriums were lifted sooner. That includes Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina, which all saw at least 20,000 additional COVID cases and 600 deaths thought to be tied to evictions. The biggest jump, though, came in Texas where there were 148,000 additional COVID cases and more than 4,400 deaths.

“In general, the folks that get evicted tend to be lower-income and people of color,” said Leifheit. “As we know, those are the people that are really bearing the brunt of the COVID pandemic.”

If the recent $900 billion stimulus bill passed by Congress does not extend it, the CDC’s eviction moratorium will expire on Jan. 1.

With the way the numbers and weather are trending now, Leifheit fears a confluence of events that could lead to massive growth in cases.

“Transmission rates are soaring right now,” she said. “To take away housing, which may be a pretty fundamental protection people have against COVID right now, could be catastrophic.”

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