Strong demand for detached homes backed by study showing higher COVID-19 death risk in apartments

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      A study looked at mortality rates in private residences in Canada during the first wave of COVID-19.

      The results explain why the strong demand for single-family homes during the pandemic made sense.

      The Statistics Canada research showed that on a national scale, mortality rates associated with people living in apartments were more than twice as a high as those residing in detached homes.

      In addition, the study indicated that people living in larger households were generally more at risk of dying from COVID-19.

      The research showed that nationally, there were nine deaths associated with COVID-19 per population of 100,000 among people in single-family residences.

      For those in high-rise apartments, the mortality rate was 22 per 100,000.

      Fei-Ju Yang and Nicole Aitken with Statistics Canada looked at deaths attributable to COVID-19 from the start of 2021 to July 4.

      Their study bears the title ‘People living in apartments and larger households were at higher risk of dying from COVID-19 during the first wave of the pandemic’, and was released in April 2021.

      Although the work covered a national scale, the report did not cite particular numbers for B.C.. However, it highlighted two other big provinces in the country for illustration.

      For example, in Quebec, those living in high-rise apartments had almost 2.5 times higher COVID-19 mortality rates than those in single detached houses. That’s 63 per 100,000 compared to 27 per 100,000, respectively.

      In Ontario, the COVID-19 mortality rates were almost twice as high for those living in high-rise apartments. This translates to 16 per 100,000 against nine per 100,000 in detached homes.

      Moreover, Yang and Aitken explained why people belonging to bigger households were more at risk of dying due to the novel coronavirus.

      “This may be due to the fact that larger households have more potential points of contact with the virus or there are reduced options for self-isolating within the home if someone becomes sick,” the researchers wrote.

      The study indicated that the COVID-19 mortality rate across Canada for people living alone was 15 per 100,000. Meanwhile, the rate for those living in a household with five or more people was 17 per 100,000.

      The researchers wrote that “social distancing can be a challenge for individuals sharing a home, especially if the space is small or there are many people living in the same space”.

      Yang and Aitken also stated that the differences in mortality rates could be seen “beyond the type of dwelling not covered in this study”.

      The Statistics Canada researchers were referring to socio-economic factors, such as economic disparity.

      Yang and Aitken noted that the median after-tax household income varies by the type of dwelling.

      For residents in single-detached houses, it was $76,782. People in high-rise apartments have a lower median after-tax income of $42,323.