San Diego zip code records an average of 30 new coronavirus cases per day

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As coronavirus cases increase in San Diego County, a zip code in southern San Diego has recorded an average of 30 new cases per day since October 22, more than any other zip code in the county.Zip code 92154 covers the neighborhoods of Otay Mesa, Nestor, Egger Highlands and Tijuana River Valley.

This area has the highest total number of cases, nearly 4,000, since San Diego County health officials began posting coronavirus data by zip code in early March. In the last month alone, the region added nearly 1,000 new cases.

Other areas of southern San Diego, Chula Vista and El Cajon have also averaged at least 20 new cases of coronavirus per day since mid-October, data shows.

“It’s not surprising, given all we know,” said Nancy Maldonado, executive director of the Chicano Federation, an advocacy and social service organization serving residents of southern San Diego neighborhoods.

What she does know is that there are long-standing health care disparities in these neighborhoods, as well as an overrepresentation of low-wage “essential” jobs, higher population density, and higher density lack of access to affordable housing, she said.

“The housing situation is not something we can get around overnight,” she said. “If you have multiple families in one location, it’s no surprise that those zip codes have stayed on top. ”

In zip code 91911, which encompasses southern Chula Vista, nearly 800 new cases have been reported since mid-October, for an average of 25 new cases per day, placing it second in the county.

This is followed by two postal codes in El Cajon – 92020 and 92021 – each increasing on average by about 20 cases per day.

The average daily increase in cases in these zip codes exceeds most other areas of the county.

Of some 180 zip codes in San Diego County, 92% have an average daily increase of less than 10 cases.

Data shows that southern San Diego and southern Chula Vista are the only areas with a daily rate of 25 or more new cases.

Some neighborhood residents say the risk of COVID-19 still appears to be present.

Carlos Sanchez, who has lived in Nestor for almost 47 years, lost a sister to COVID-19 in June. Recently, a neighboring couple were taken to hospital, he said, due to complications from COVID-19.

“It shocked us in a way because it’s so close to us,” he said.

Sanchez’s wife, a grocery store cashier, has not seen her grandchildren since March because the family wants to be safe. He constantly reminds his wife to be safe at work, as she comes into contact with dozens of customers a day.

He stays at home almost every day to avoid getting sick.

Communities with a high percentage of essential workers tend to see higher case rates, said Michael Workman, county communications director.

He added that skilled nursing facilities, collective housing and prisons could also be factors in high infection rates in some zip codes.

For example, dozens of coronavirus cases at the Otay Mesa Detention Center could be contributing to ZIP code 92154 rates in southern San Diego and Otay Mesa. Employees and inmates have tested positive at the facility, officials said.

Workman said community habits – such as mask wearing level, physical distance, and social gatherings – could also play a role in large numbers in some zip codes.

Some nonprofits have spent the past eight months pushing for more coronavirus testing in southern San Diego County neighborhoods and providing resources to communities hardest hit by the pandemic.

San Ysidro Health, which operates clinics in San Diego County, offers free testing at a National City clinic and free consultation with a doctor – regardless of test results – to help educate community members .

“We are seeing a big increase in the county right now, so we are seeing an increase in the number of people arriving and the number of cases that we are seeing,” said Adriana Bearse, research and health promotion program manager. at San Ysidro Health.

San Ysidro Health and the Chicano Federation serve refugee and immigrant populations in El Cajon. Defenders say they have struggled to reach some of them because of cultural barriers.

The Chicano Federation plans to adopt face-to-face outreach in areas with high coronavirus rates – along with additional safety precautions – to provide information and resources to those areas, Maldonado said.

“It has been very difficult to reach some of these communities with an education,” she says. “We’re trying radio and social media, but there are still people we don’t reach… probably the ones who need them the most.”

Schroeder and Lopez-Villafana write for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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