Who was at risk for COVID-19 late in the US pandemic? Insights from a population health machine learning model.

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Medical & biological engineering & computing


washington; renton; system; covid-19; diversity


Notable discrepancies in vulnerability to COVID-19 infection have been identified between specific population groups and regions in the USA. The purpose of this study was to estimate the likelihood of COVID-19 infection using a machine-learning algorithm that can be updated continuously based on health care data. Patient records were extracted for all COVID-19 nasal swab PCR tests performed within the Providence St. Joseph Health system from February to October of 2020. A total of 316,599 participants were included in this study, and approximately 7.7% (n = 24,358) tested positive for COVID-19. A gradient boosting model, LightGBM (LGBM), predicted risk of initial infection with an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.819. Factors that predicted infection were cough, fever, being a member of the Hispanic or Latino community, being Spanish speaking, having a history of diabetes or dementia, and living in a neighborhood with housing insecurity. A model trained on sociodemographic, environmental, and medical history data performed well in predicting risk of a positive COVID-19 test. This model could be used to tailor education, public health policy, and resources for communities that are at the greatest risk of infection.


Infectious Diseases


Population Health