The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and associated economic crisis have placed millions of US households at risk of eviction. Evictions may accelerate COVID-19 transmission by decreasing individuals' ability to socially distance. We leveraged variation in the expiration of eviction moratoriums in US states to test for associations between evictions and COVID-19 incidence and mortality. The study included 44 US states that instituted eviction moratoriums, followed from March 13 to September 3, 2020. We modeled associations using a difference-in-difference approach with an event-study specification. Negative binomial regression models of cases and deaths included fixed effects for state and week and controlled for time-varying indicators of testing, stay-at-home orders, school closures, and mask mandates. COVID-19 incidence and mortality increased steadily in states after eviction moratoriums expired, and expiration was associated with a doubling of COVID-19 incidence (incidence rate ratio = 2.1; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.1, 3.9) and a 5-fold increase in COVID-19 mortality (mortality rate ratio = 5.4; CI: 3.1, 9.3) 16 weeks after moratoriums lapsed. These results imply an estimated 433,700 excess cases (CI: 365,200, 502,200) and 10,700 excess deaths (CI: 8,900, 12,500) nationally by September 3, 2020. The expiration of eviction moratoriums was associated with increased COVID-19 incidence and mortality, supporting the public-health rationale for eviction prevention to limit COVID-19 cases and deaths.
Keywords: COVID-19; eviction; housing; social policy.
© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.