May 28, 2020 | By Samuel Kling

Wait Just a Minute: Samuel Kling on Cities and COVID-19

Samuel Kling, Global Cities and ACLS/Mellon Public Fellow at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, takes a minute to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on big cities and how cities can benefit from high density in a pandemic.

Wait Just a Minute: Samuel Kling on Cities and COVID-19

Why are cities vulnerable to COVID-19?

There is a widespread perception that coronavirus hits cities particularly hard, but when you look at the evidence overall, it's not so straightforward.  Take New York City for exaample, it has a lot of cases but if you look at suburban Westchester and suburban Rockland County, they actually have more cases per capita and then you can look at other big cities that are really dense and really interconnected like Singapore and Hong Kong. They had relatively few cases. Density can cause challenges for cities in a pandemic, but it's not so straightforward and these challenges can be overcome.

How can cities benefit from high density in a pandemic? 

So cities can more easily concentrate resources and social services in dense places. If you are sick in the city, you can probably get to a hospital very quickly. And density can, but it doesn’t always, but it can foster the social connections between residents and neighbors which can built relationships between people and sort of serve as a first line of dense in an urban disaster.

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The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is an independent, nonpartisan organization that provides insight – and influences the public discourse – on critical global issues. We convene leading global voices and conduct independent research to bring clarity and offer solutions to challenges and opportunities across the globe. The Council is committed to engaging the public and raising global awareness of issues that transcend borders and transform how people, business, and governments engage the world.

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