Rapidly measuring spatial accessibility of COVID-19 healthcare resources: a case study of Illinois, USA

Jeon Young Kang, Alexander C Michels, Fangzheng Lyu, Shaohua Wang, Nelson Agbodo, Vincent L. Freeman, Shaowen Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), causing the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, has infected millions of people and caused hundreds of thousands of deaths. While COVID-19 has overwhelmed healthcare resources (e.g., healthcare personnel, testing resources, hospital beds, and ventilators) in a number of countries, limited research has been conducted to understand spatial accessibility of such resources. This study fills this gap by rapidly measuring the spatial accessibility of COVID-19 healthcare resources with a particular focus on Illinois, USA.

Method. The rapid measurement is achieved by resolving computational intensity of an enhanced two-step floating catchment area (E2SFCA) method through a parallel computing strategy based on cyberGIS (cyber geographic information science and systems). The E2SFCA has two major steps. First, it calculates a bed-to-population ratio for each hospital location. Second, it sums these ratios for residential locations where hospital locations overlap.

Results. The comparison of the spatial accessibility measures for COVID-19 patients to those of population at risk identifies which geographic areas need additional healthcare resources to improve access. The results also help delineate the areas that may face a COVID-19-induced shortage of healthcare resources. The Chicagoland, particularly the southern Chicago, shows an additional need for resources. This study also identified vulnerable population residing in the areas with low spatial accessibility in Chicago.

Conclusion. Rapidly measuring spatial accessibility of healthcare resources provides an improved understanding of how well the healthcare infrastructure is equipped to save people’s lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings are relevant for policymakers and public health practitioners to allocate existing healthcare resources or distribute new resources for maximum access to health services.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number36
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Health Geographics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 14 2020


  • Coronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)
  • Novel coronavirus
  • 2019-nCoV
  • Pandemic
  • cyberGIS
  • social vulnerability
  • spatial accessibility
  • spatial analysis
  • CyberGIS
  • Spatial accessibility
  • Spatial analysis
  • Social vulnerability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • General Computer Science


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