The “why Detroit” question has continued to be asked pointedly and lamented by others. If you look at a lot of data for the city, you will be no stranger to large numbers, overwhelming burdens, and unfortunate top rates for bad indicators.
I’ve lamented the “food desert” term in my work and found it to truly be an expression of the compound burden faced by many Detroiters that lack opportunity and live daily with high degrees of social vulnerability. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) developed an index based on multiple Census data points in order to identify high risk areas in order to plan for environmental crisis. I’ve found that it works very well for non-environmental crises as well.
In this map, you can see there is a fair degree of overlap between dense areas with COVID-19 cases and high risk areas (very socially vulnerable: no car, low income, etc.) or areas with a large percentage of senior citizens (at greater risk of death from COVID-19).
This is not a perfect measure, but does provide a snapshot into geographies of vulnerability when considering where there might need to be additional outreach, for example, to seniors on the Lower Eastside, communities in Southwest Detroit, or Near Westside due to high risk or high vulnerability.