COVID-19 deaths by ZIP code spotlight longstanding health disparities, South Bay doctors say

More than 30 percent of the county’s COVID-19 fatalities have involved residents from South Bay communities

By LYNDSAY WINKLEY, LAURYN SCHROEDER

South Bay communities, particularly those that are low-income and with large Latino populations, continue to be the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, according to an analysis of COVID-19 deaths by ZIP code.

The most recent data provided by the county confirms trends previously reported by health officials and underscores the sometimes fatal consequences that stem from longstanding health disparities, doctors say.

Deaths in these hard-hit communities, they said, are likely the result of social factors that have long been known to impact health, such as poverty, access to health care and the availability of affordable housing. Barriers to testing and a high population of essential workers are also likely contributing to higher numbers.

“These same factors that were here before COVID and that, frankly, will be here after COVID, are really what’s causing this disparity in both cases and the outcomes when people get infected with COVID-19,” said Dr. Jeannette L. Aldous, director of infectious disease at San Ysidro Health.

Three of the five ZIP codes with the highest death totals are in the South County cities of National City and Chula Vista — communities that have also experienced high COVID-19 case rates. National City’s 91950 ZIP code tops the list with 27 deaths. Two ZIP codes encompassing most of Chula Vista, 91910 and 91911, have seen 20 deaths each.

Several communities with high death totals also contain nursing homes that have reported dozens of COVID-19 fatalities to the state.

Two ZIP codes in El Cajon that rank No. 2 and No. 3 on the list have seen nearly 50 deaths — a total impacted by the five nursing homes in those areas that have experienced outbreaks of the novel coronavirus. The National City ZIP code with the most deaths also contains several nursing homes that have seen outbreaks.

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