South Bend Coronavirus Neighborhood-Level Risk Factors

This map displays several neighborhood-level measures of populations with greater risk associated with COVID-19. To develop the indices, we used demographic and health characteristics thought to increase a person's risk for severe symptoms or death, as identified by national and world health organizations.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that "some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness, [including] older adults [and] people who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, [and] lung disease." The National Cancer Institute says that people with certain types of cancer or treatments can have weaker immune systems, making them more susceptible to COVID-19. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says those who smoke may also be more susceptible to the disease. The World Health Organization suggests that people with asthma may be more vulnerable to a serious respiratory infection from Coronavirus.

Risk Indices

Using demographic data from the U.S. Census Bureau and estimates of neighborhood health data from the CDC's 500 Cities Project, we can estimate areas with high-risk populations.

Because it's hard to understand eight different maps, each with a different risk factor, we used statistics (specifically principle component analysis) to simplify and synthesize the information. We found that there are two distinct groups of indicators that relate to risk populations. These roughly split our eight indicators into two groups of four, with one group related to socioeconomic status and one group related to age.

The socioeconomic risk group contains behaviors and outcomes that tend to relate to income and economic opportunity. These are the uninsured population, asthma, smoking rates, and diabetes.

The age risk group contains demographics (age itself) and health outcomes that are linked to older age populations. This includes cancer and heart disease.

The values shown in this tool are calculated from all the census tracts in Indiana where 500 Cities health data is available. This includes most major cities in Indiana. Therefore, the ranges shown on the map are in comparison to the other cities across Indiana, not just to neighborhoods within South Bend. This is because using only the relatively small number of census tracts in South Bend would not provide enough data points for a strong analysis.

What We Found

On the whole, South Bend has large geographic areas with populations that are highly at risk. This includes socioeconomic risk factors and health-related risk factors, particularly diabetes. For socioeconomic risk, these areas are concentrated to the west and south of the city, with the Near Northwest, Kennedy Park, LaSalle Park, Monroe Park, Oliver Gateway, Southeast, Rum Village, and the Far Westside showing the highest risk. Diabetes is generally most prevalent in these areas as well, with access to healthy food options (e.g. full-service grocery stores) in these areas difficult. In addition, a high percentage residents in neighborhoods like Oliver Gateway and the Far Westside have no health insurance.

In contrast, about half of the tracts score average or below average on the socioeconomic-related risk index compared to other major cities in the state. The St. Joseph River and Portage Avenue serve as dividing lines between neighborhoods with low or high socioeconomic risk. Neighborhoods east of the river or Portage Avenue have lower socioeconomic risk than neighborhoods to the west.

In May, St. Joseph County released data about confirmed COVID-19 cases for each zip code. The highest number of cases are in zip code 46619, on the county's west side. There 148 confirmed cases of COVID-19, a rate of 680 cases per 100,000. Zip code 46617 has the highest positivity rate, with 838 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents. This zip code, located northeast of downtown, has 79 confirmed cases.

How to Use this Map

To use this map, click on a neighborhood area (census tract) and explore its risk factors in the legend to the left. Expand each index to see the individual variables that have the strongest impact on that measure. To change the data displayed on the map, click “map this” located next to the index name or variable name in the legend. If you zoom in, additional neighborhood names will appear on the map.

For touch screens, use two fingers to zoom or pan on the map


This was built by SAVI, a program of the Polis Center at IUPUI, with contributions from Notre Dame's Center for Civic Innovation. If you have any questions, please contact

Data Sources and Notes

Geographies shown are census tracts. Demographic data (age groups) are from the 2018 American Community Survey 5-Year Averages (via SAVI). Health data are from the CDC's 500 Cities Project (via SAVI). Confirmed COVID-19 cases by zip code are from the St. Joseph County Health Department and are current as of May 11, 2020. South Bend neighborhood data layers are from dataMichiana, as identified by Neighborhood Resources Connection.

We have limited information about the risk factors related to COVID-19, how they relate, and their relative importance. This information changes quickly, but we will work to update this map as new information becomes available.


The combined risk index was created by standardizing each indicator by calculating z-scores for each tract (in other words, how far above or below average is each tract for each indicators). Principal component analysis was used to develop a measure highlighting tracts with many overlapping risk factors. This revealed two components that have the strongest explanatory power. Component one, what we call socioeconomic-related risk factors, explains 50% of the variation in these eight indicators. Component two, what we call age-related risk factors, explains 33% of variation.

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