Alexandria Health Department Provides Update on COVID-19 ZIP Code Data
For Immediate Release: June 11, 2020
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has published data on COVID-19 cases by ZIP code since the beginning of May. The following Alexandria Health Department (AHD) analysis summarizes the current data and changes in the past month.
Updated ZIP Code Data
The City of Alexandria has provided the estimated population for each local ZIP code to compare the number of cases per 1,000 residents. As of June 9, VDH has reported the following COVID-19 cases:
|ZIP Code||Estimated Population
(in Alexandria Portion of ZIP code)
|Confirmed Cases per ZIP code||Total People Tested||Positivity Rate*||Tests Per 1,000 Residents||Confirmed Cases Per 1,000 Residents|
* The positivity rate is the number of confirmed cases divided by the number of tests.
** ZIP code 22206 is primarily in Arlington County; the Alexandria portion of data for 22206 is not provided, therefore the numbers and calculations would not be reliable for reporting for Alexandria.
*** ZIP codes 22311 and 22312 are shared between Alexandria and Fairfax County. The number of cases and number of people tested presented in this table, and accompanying calculations, are for the entire ZIP code. Cases per 1,000 Alexandrians cannot be reliably calculated.
Significant Changes from May 7, 2020
Since the May 7, 2020 AHD report on ZIP code data, there have been significant changes. The May analysis included rates that varied from 2.3 to 19.7 cases per 1,000 residents in the ZIP codes that can be calculated. New data from June 9 reveals rates ranging from 3.9 to 35.5 cases per 1,000 residents in these ZIP codes. This increase in the rates of confirmed cases is cumulative and expected as the pandemic continues to propagate throughout Alexandria.
All Alexandria ZIP codes had decreases in their positivity rate (positivity rate is the percentage of tests completed that were positive). The percent positivity previously ranged from 12.4% to 55.4% and more recently ranges from 9.9% to 30.1%. The ZIP code with the highest positivity rate in the May analysis, 22305 (55.4%), had a 46% reduction in the positivity rate, to 30.1% on June 9.
The increase in testing, and subsequent lower positivity rate, is consistent with increased healthcare provider capacity; greater community awareness of testing options; and the point prevalence surveys that AHD supports in long-term facilities and congregate settings.
It is important to note that the virus has widespread community transmission throughout all of Alexandria, Northern Virginia, and Washington D.C. and Maryland. An individual’s risk of becoming infected continues to be based on many factors, including individual exposures and health status, environmental conditions, policies and practices of businesses, and individual behaviors.
Disproportionate Impact of COVID-19
Although viruses do not discriminate, the COVID-19 virus disproportionately impacts vulnerable populations just as other diseases and health conditions do. 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. The populations living in some ZIP codes have experienced discriminatory policies and systems, resulting in inequitable access to economic opportunities, affordable housing, and healthcare.
Inequitable conditions have created disproportionate rates of chronic health issues resulting in large differences in life expectancy across Alexandria. Now, these chronic health issues also make people more susceptible to severe disease from COVID-19 infection. Additionally, these community members are more likely to work in jobs where they are underpaid; do not receive paid sick leave; and are not afforded telework opportunities, creating additional risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
What the Alexandria Health Department is Doing
AHD has been working with vulnerable populations, community leaders and activists in communities of color and disadvantage for decades, including in the battles against HIV/AIDS, other communicable diseases, and teen pregnancy. AHD provides those communities with targeted prevention services such as immunization and sexual & reproductive health clinics and the Special Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).
AHD’s population health efforts engage residents and partners to identify barriers to ideal health, to help build solutions that make sense for everyone. AHD’s Community Health Assessment underscores the existing disparities in Alexandria. The project’s steering committee – a group of committed, diverse community members and leaders – used equity as their guide throughout the process. Community members reviewed the results of this work and chose three focal points – poverty, housing and mental health – for a five-year Community Health Improvement Plan, developed in tandem with the Partnership for a Healthier Alexandria.
Since originally becoming aware of COVID-19 in late 2019, AHD has been working with community partners that serve populations at high risk for severe illness if they contract COVID-19. This has included targeted messaging to educate and empower all Alexandrians of all levels of health literacy of what COVID-19 is; how to reduce the risk of catching it; where to seek testing and medical care; and how to take care of one’s self and loved ones at home who may become ill.
AHD works with healthcare providers to inform them about the virus and disease; how to protect their staff and patients; and how to conduct testing. AHD has also provided personal protective equipment to healthcare providers willing to perform COVID-19 testing, in order to increase testing options for community members. Additionally, AHD prioritizes efforts to protect Alexandrians most at risk, particularly those over the age of 65 and those living in congregate living facilities (e.g. long-term care facilities, group homes, and detention centers).
AHD reminds everyone that viruses do not respect geographic boundaries, and ZIP codes are largely arbitrary areas that vary in shape and size. Since there is community-wide transmission of COVID-19, and people may have the virus without showing symptoms, everyone in Alexandria is at risk of infection. It is important to be aware that it is still safer at home, particularly for those most at risk of severe disease that can lead to hospitalization, the need for mechanical ventilation, and even death. This includes those 65 years of age and older and those with underlying medical conditions. Those who do go out should remain 6 feet apart from others; wear a cloth face covering over the nose and mouth when physical distancing cannot be maintained and at all times in indoor public spaces; and continue meticulous hand hygiene - washing hands frequently for 20 seconds with soap and water or, when a sink is not readily available, using hand gel with at least 60% alcohol.
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This news release is available at alexandriava.gov/115999.