COVID-19, the Built Environment, and Health

Howard Frumkin
2021 Environmental Health Perspectives  
Since the dawn of cities, the built environment has both affected infectious disease transmission and evolved in response to infectious diseases. COVID-19 illustrates both dynamics. The pandemic presented an opportunity to implement health promotion and disease prevention strategies in numerous elements of the built environment. This commentary aims to identify features of the built environment that affect the risk of COVID-19 as well as to identify elements of the pandemic response with
more » ... tions for the built environment (and, therefore, for long-term public health). Built environment risk factors for COVID-19 transmission include crowding, poverty, and racism (as they manifest in housing and neighborhood features), poor indoor air circulation, and ambient air pollution. Potential long-term implications of COVID-19 for the built environment include changes in building design, increased teleworking, reconfigured streets, changing modes of travel, provision of parks and greenspace, and population shifts out of urban centers. Although it is too early to predict with confidence which of these responses may persist, identifying and monitoring them can help health professionals, architects, urban planners, and decision makers, as well as members of the public, optimize healthy built environments during and after recovery from the pandemic.
doi:10.1289/ehp8888 pmid:34288733 fatcat:m2lvuaejybhmjhmtw5yr2nsx7a