By Cody Mello-Klein | [email protected]
The Virginia Department of Health released data on COVID-19 cases based on zip codes, revealing the virus’ disproportionate impact on the city’s most vulnerable populations, according to a news release on May 7.
With additional context provided by the Alexandria Health Department, the data shows that the number of confirmed cases per 1,000 residents varies dramatically based on zip code. This data represents point-in-time data that may have changed as testing has increased.
The 22301 zip code, which covers the majority of Potomac West, had 35 confirmed cases, a 2.3 per 1,000 residents rate of infection and a 12.4 percent positivity rate. Meanwhile, zip code 22305, which includes Arlandria, Chirilagua and the northern part of Potomac Yard, had 317 confirmed cases, a rate of 19.7 cases per 1,000 residents and a 55.4 percent positivity rate, making it the ninth highest in the state at the time. Zip code 22305 also had the most tests performed per 1,000 residents out of any Alexandria zip code, at a rate of 35.5.
Zip code 22304, which covers parts of Seminary Hill, Landmark/Van Dorn and Eisenhower West, had the second highest rate of confirmed cases, with 296, representing 5.5 confirmed cases per 1,000 residents and a 25.9 percent positivity rate.
The release notes that certain zip codes – 22311 and 22312 – are shared between Alexandria and Fairfax County, making it difficult to calculate the number of Alexandrians tested and the number of confirmed cases for Alexandrians.
The data provides a clearer picture of how the virus has impacted the city’s most vulnerable populations, including people of color and low economic status, more significantly than others, revealing preexisting divides in access to healthcare, housing and economic opportunities.
“The zip codes with the highest rates of known COVID-19 cases in Alexandria are also the zip codes with higher concentrations of poverty, lower education levels, and crowded housing conditions,” according to the release. “The populations living in some zip codes have historically experienced discriminatory policies and systems, resulting in inequitable access to healthcare, economic opportunities and affordable housing.”
In response, AHD has been working with community leaders and activists in those areas of the city to spread awareness about the virus, how to reduce the risk of catching or spreading it and where to get tested and receive medical care, according to the release.