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Samuel Kling on Cities and COVID-19

Samuel Kling, Global Cities Fellow at the Council, takes a minute to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on big cities and how cities can benefit from high density in a pandemic.
A screenshot of Samuel Kling in a Wait Just a Minute Interview. Play Video

Why are cities vulnerable to COVID-19? 

There is a widespread perception that coronavirus hits cities particularly hard, but when you look at the evidence overall, it's not so straightforward.  Take New York City for example, it has a lot of cases but if you look at suburban Westchester and suburban Rockland County, they actually have more cases per capita and then you can look at other big cities that are really dense and really interconnected like Singapore and Hong Kong. They had relatively few cases. Density can cause challenges for cities in a pandemic, but it's not so straightforward and these challenges can be overcome. 

How can cities benefit from high density in a pandemic?  

So cities can more easily concentrate resources and social services in dense places. If you are sick in the city, you can probably get to a hospital very quickly. And density can, but it doesn’t always, but it can foster the social connections between residents and neighbors which can built relationships between people and sort of serve as a first line of dense in an urban disaster. 

About the Expert
Samuel Kling
Former Fellow & Director of Global Cities Research
Council expert Samuel Kling
Samuel Kling joined the Council as a Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow before transferring to his role as a fellow and director of global cities research. His research focuses on mobility and urban planning policies, and how historical perspective can inform policymaking today.
Council expert Samuel Kling