Authors: Abigail R. Greenleaf, Monique Millington, Kiana Chan, Melissa Reyes, Shannon M. Farley, Andrea Low, David Hoos, Wafaa M. El‑Sadr
To describe effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on older adults living in non-institutionalized settings in New York
City (NYC) we used random digit dial sampling of landlines phones to sample then interview residents 70 years and older in NYC from December 2020–March 2021. Socio-demographic, health characteristics and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were solicited. Of 676 respondents, the average age was 78, 60% were female, and 63% had ever been tested for SARS-CoV-2, with 12% testing positive. Sixty-three percent of respondents knew someone who had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and 51% reported knowing at least one person who had died from COVID-19. Eight percent of respondents reported sometimes or often not having enough to eat, with 31% receiving food from a food pantry program. Significantly more Latinx respondents (24%) reported a positive SARS-CoV-2 test, whereas 17% of those of another race, 8% of white, and 7% of Black respondents had a positive COVID-19 test (p<0.01). Forty-three percent of Black and 43% of Latinx respondents reported using a food pantry during COVID-19 pandemic, compared to 35% of respondents of another race and ethnicity and 18% of whites (p<0.01). Twenty-nine percent of Latinx respondents screened for depression compared to 15% among all other races (p=0.04). The COVID-19 pandemic has substantial health and social effects on older New Yorkers living in community settings, and experiences differed by race and ethnicity. Beyond older adults in congregate settings, those living at home have experienced wide-ranging effects of COVID-19, necessitating tailored interventions.