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Domestic Violence Police Reporting and Resources During the 2020 COVID-19 Stay-at-Home Order in Chicago, Illinois

Educational Objective
To identify the key insights or developments described in this article
1 Credit CME
Key Points

Question  Are there associations between the COVID-19 stay-at-home order issued March 2020 in Chicago, Illinois, and the rate of domestic violence (DV) police reporting and resource availability?

Findings  In this cohort study of 77 Chicago community areas, the stay-at-home order was associated with a decrease in the rate of DV police reports by 21.8 crimes per 100 000 persons per month relative to the same months in 2019, a finding observed largely in Black communities, with no significant change in White communities. Resource availability decreased by 5.1 resources per 100 000 persons.

Meaning  The decreased rate of DV police reports during the stay-at-home order, especially in Black majority communities, may be due to decreased DV incidence or exacerbated underreporting; resource availability also decreased on the predominantly Black south side of Chicago.


Importance  Domestic violence (DV) has become a growing public health concern during the COVID-19 pandemic because individuals may be sheltering in place with abusers and facing mounting economic and health-related stresses.

Objective  To analyze associations of the 2020 COVID-19 stay-at-home (SH) order with DV police reporting and resource availability, including differences by community area racial/ethnic composition.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This longitudinal cohort study assessed DV police reports (January-June 2020) obtained from the Chicago, Illinois, Police Department and DV resource availability (March and August 2020) obtained from the NowPow community resource database, both for 77 community areas in Chicago. Data were analyzed July through December 2020.

Exposures  The COVID-19 SH order effective March 21, 2020.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Monthly rates of DV police reports and DV resource availability per 100 000 persons.

Results  Of 77 community areas in Chicago, 28 (36.4%) were majority Black, 19 (24.7%) majority Hispanic/Latinx, 18 (23.4%) majority White, and 12 (15.6%) a different or no majority race/ethnicity, representing an estimated population of 2 718 555 individuals. For each community area, the SH order was associated with a decrease in the rate of DV police reports by 21.8 (95% CI, −30.48 to −13.07) crimes per 100 000 persons per month relative to the same months in 2019. Compared with White majority community areas, Black majority areas had a decrease in the rate of DV police reports by 40.8 (95% CI, −62.93 to −18.75) crimes per 100 000 persons per month relative to the same months in 2019. The SH order was also associated with a decrease in DV resource availability at a rate of 5.1 (95% CI, −7.55 to −2.67) resources per 100 000 persons, with the largest decreases for mental health (−4.3 [95% CI, −5.97 to −2.66] resources per 100 000 persons) and personal safety (−2.4 [95% CI, −4.40 to −0.41] resources per 100 000 persons). The Black majority south side of Chicago had a larger decrease in resource availability (−6.7 [95% CI, −12.92 to −0.46] resources per 100 000 persons) than the White majority north side.

Conclusions and Relevance  In this longitudinal cohort study, the rate of DV police reports decreased after the SH order was implemented in Chicago. This decrease was largely observed in Black majority communities, whereas there was no significant change in White majority communities. These findings may reflect decreased DV incidence but may also reflect an exacerbation of underreporting. In addition, DV resource availability decreased disproportionately on the predominantly Black south side of Chicago.

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CME Disclosure Statement: Unless noted, all individuals in control of content reported no relevant financial relationships. If applicable, all relevant financial relationships have been mitigated.

Article Information

Accepted for Publication: June 25, 2021.

Published: September 2, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.22260

Open Access: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the CC-BY License. © 2021 Baidoo L et al. JAMA Network Open.

Corresponding Author: Elizabeth L. Tung, MD, MS, Section of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Chicago, 5841 S Maryland Ave, MC 2007, Chicago, IL 60637 (

Author Contributions: Ms Baidoo and Dr Tung had full access to all of the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

Concept and design: Baidoo, Zakrison, Tung.

Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: All authors.

Drafting of the manuscript: Baidoo, Zakrison, Feldmeth, Tung.

Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: All authors.

Statistical analysis: Baidoo, Tung.

Obtained funding: Lindau, Tung.

Administrative, technical, or material support: Feldmeth, Lindau, Tung.

Supervision: Zakrison, Tung.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Ms Feldmeth reported being an employee of NowPow. Dr Lindau reported directing a Health Care Innovation Award from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; founding and co-owning NowPow, which has a business relationship with MAPSCorps, a 501c3; investing in Glenbervie Health LLC; and investing in stocks and mutual funds along with her spouse, which are managed by third parties, outside the submitted work. No other disclosures were reported.

Funding/Support: Dr Lindau was supported by grants R01AG064949, R01M012630, and R01AG047869 from the National Institute on Aging. Dr Tung was supported by career development grant 1K23HL145090-01 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Role of the Funder/Sponsor: The funders had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

Disclaimer: The findings and conclusions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of any of the sponsors. NowPow LLC receives no support through funding from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Neither the University of Chicago nor the University of Chicago Medicine endorses or promotes any NowPow LLC entity or its business, products, or services.

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