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Projected geographic disparities in healthcare worker absenteeism from COVID-19 school closures and the economic feasibility of child care subsidies: a simulation study.

ABSTRACT: Background:School closures have been enacted as a measure of mitigation during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It has been shown that school closures could cause absenteeism amongst healthcare workers with dependent children, but there remains a need for spatially granular analyses of the relationship between school closures and healthcare worker absenteeism to inform local community preparedness. Methods:We provide national- and county-level simulations of school closures and unmet child care needs across the United States. We develop individual simulations using county-level demographic and occupational data, and model school closure effectiveness with age-structured compartmental models. We perform multivariate quasi-Poisson ecological regressions to find associations between unmet child care needs and COVID-19 vulnerability factors. Results:At the national level, we estimate the projected rate of unmet child care needs for healthcare worker households to range from 7.5% to 8.6%, and the effectiveness of school closures to range from 3.2% (R 0 = 4) to 7.2% (R 0 = 2) reduction in fewer ICU beds at peak demand. At the county-level, we find substantial variations of projected unmet child care needs and school closure effects, ranging from 1.9% to 18.3% of healthcare worker households and 5.7% to 8.8% reduction in fewer ICU beds at peak demand (R 0 = 2). We find significant positive associations between estimated levels of unmet child care needs and diabetes prevalence, county rurality, and race (p < 0.05). We estimate costs of absenteeism and child care and observe from our models that an estimated 71.1% to 98.8% of counties would find it less expensive to provide child care to all healthcare workers with children than to bear the costs of healthcare worker absenteeism during school closures. Conclusions:School closures are projected to reduce peak ICU bed demand, but could disrupt healthcare systems through absenteeism, especially in counties that are already particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. Child care subsidies could help circumvent the ostensible tradeoff between school closures and healthcare worker absenteeism.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC7239083 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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