COVID-19 impacting non-white, uninsured MoCo residents the most.
In July, the Washington Post reported that in Montgomery County, Hispanic residents — who make up about a fifth of the County’s population — accounted for 74 percent of recent COVID-19 cases.
The coronavirus pandemic is disproportionately affecting nonwhite and vulnerable communities in Montgomery County and nationwide. ZIP codes that have higher rates of nonwhite and uninsured residents tend to have a higher prevalence of COVID-19 cases. There is also a statistically significant link between COVID deaths and race.
According to Census and state data, White Oak ZIP code 20904, which is 73 percent nonwhite and 13 percent uninsured, has nearly 2,500 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, and 127 deaths per 100,000 residents. Northern Potomac ZIP code 20878, which is 45 percent nonwhite and 6 percent uninsured, has 951 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, and 23 deaths per 100,000 residents.
These findings follow nationwide trends. Nation-wide research from the Centers for Disease Control shows that Black Americans, who make up about 14 percent of the national population, are dying from COVID-19 at 2.1 times the rate of non-Hispanic white Americans. Hispanic/Latino Americans, who make up about 18 percent of the population, are dying at 1.1 times the rate.
Numerous factors contribute to why nonwhite and uninsured people are more at risk for contracting and dying from coronavirus. According to the CDC, people of color are more likely to be uninsured compared to non-Hispanic white people. Limited healthcare access among minority groups could be attributed to causes such as lack of transportation or childcare, cultural or language barriers, or immigration status.
People of color are also more likely to have preexisting conditions, which could increase their risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms. For example, the CDC estimates that about 12.5 percent of Hispanic Americans have diagnosed diabetes, compared to 7.5 percent of non-Hispanic whites. Some minority communities also live in densely populated housing, where social distancing is not possible.
In addition to varying healthcare access and living conditions, many working-age non-white and uninsured people are part of the essential workforce, which puts them at greater risk of exposure to the disease. According to a 2018 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Hispanic/Latino Americans account for almost half of all workers in construction, agriculture, and housekeeping occupations. Black Americans account for 36 percent of nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides. The Center for Economic and Policy Research also reports that 11 percent of frontline workers are uninsured.
The map shows the number of COVID-19 cases by ZIP code in Montgomery County, controlling for density. More cases are seen in Rockville, Gaithersburg, Silver Spring, and Takoma Park.
By Nyrene Monforte and Prayag Gordy