Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Mathematics



Major Advisor

Jodi L. Mead, Ph.D.


Michal A. Kopera, Ph.D.


Jaechoul Lee, Ph.D.


Candice R. Price, Ph.D.


The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on racial and ethnic minority groups, with high infection rates throughout those communities. There are a complex set of factors that account for COVID-19 disparities. Focusing on infection and death rates alone without also examining health equity, underestimates the true impact of the pandemic. To gain a more clear understanding of COVID-19’s impact in these communities, we analyzed the relationship between state COVID-19 infection rates with social determinants of health: cultural diversity, health care access, and socioeconomic status. Our approach to identifying this relationship was to estimate infection rates by fitting John Hopkins COVID-19 data to an SIR compartmental model commonly used in epidemiology to model infectious disease. These infection rates were then analyzed as a function of state indices with regard to healthcare access, and socioeconomic status, as well as measures of each states cultural diversity.

Nationally we do not see a relationship between COVID-19 infection and removal rates to cultural diversity, healthcare access, and socioeconomic status during the time period. However an analysis of states with the highest and lowest infection rates show that more culturally diverse states had higher infection rates during this time period. In addition, states that ranked low in healthcare access had infections an order of magnitude larger than states with good healthcare access. Alternatively, states grouped by low and high socioeconomic status had similar infection rates.