covid-19 cases

Where COVID-19 Isn't in San Diego County

NBC 7 Investigates found affluent suburbs in the North County aren't bearing the brunt of the virus

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It's understandable that folks in Sorrento Valley, Cardiff, La Jolla, Carmel Valley, Solana Beach or Rancho Penasquitos might find it difficult to believe a second wave of the virus is gripping the state and on the verge of overwhelming area hospitals. Understandable because in these neighborhoods, that just isn't the case.

In San Diego County, the impact of the virus varies dramatically depending on your ZIP code. Population and case-rate data appear to show a tale of two counties. For example, about 30 miles separate Carmel Valley from San Ysidro, but in Carmel Valley, residents are nearly 60 times less likely to live next to someone who tested positive for COVID.

Ana Maria Ortega is one of the hundreds of thousands of San Diegans who found themselves unemployed during the pandemic. The San Ysidro mother feeds her family on canned food from a food bank. She says she's stressed, not scared. Stressed because she’s still paying rent and her credit card bills are piling up.

Those going through the same as Ortega know, she said -- and a lot of them know -- that San Ysidro is one of the areas worst hit by the virus.

NBC 7 Investigates analyzed county data and found that 9% of the people who live in the 92173 ZIP code, which is where San Ysidro is, have tested positive for COVID-19 -- nearly 1 in every 10 people.

Juan Reyes said that’s the fear -- that you go the store and get sick.

But if you don’t go out, there won’t be food for your family, said Jorge Real. It’s depressing to see so many people this poor, Real said.

Hugo Mendoza said he retired years ago but that, without insurance, he had to go back to work to pay medical bills. Mendoza said that if the nation doesn’t open its eyes to the suffering of the poor, everyone will suffer.

But right now, that suffering isn’t felt equally in San Diego County.

NBC 7 Investigates found Carmel Valley, La Jolla and University City, respectively, have the lowest COVID case rates.

Borrego Springs, Julian, Rancho Bernardo, Solana Beach, Rancho Penasquitos, Scripps Ranch and Cardiff round out the 10 areas in our county with the lowest COVID numbers. Every one of those neighborhoods had less than 1% of its population test positive.

“I was not surprised by the data showing that we are seeing less impact in more affluent neighborhoods,” said Kyra Greene, executive director of the Center on Policy Initiatives, a San Diego nonprofit that works to close the income gap.

Greene said the ZIP codes with the highest number of cases are home to essential workers, many of them in the service sector.

“So many of the jobs in San Diego that are low-wage jobs are jobs that require folks to have face-to-face contact with the public,” Greene said.

The solution, according to Greene, is to raise low-income salaries and to provide stimulus relief to poor families.

“I have been so disappointed by the number of people who say you can’t pay people not to work," Greene said. "During a pandemic, sometimes the safest thing you can do is pay people not to work.”

For the critics, everything is easy, said Ortega. They don't have to go outside to search for food and work.

It's important to note that case numbers are reported based on where patients live, not where they contracted the virus. So it’s possible people who tested positive in San Ysidro got the virus anywhere in San Diego County – including those ZIP codes with the lowest rates.

Below is the list of ZIP codes alongside the latest case numbers, and case rates per each ZIP code's population (per 100,000 and 10,000 people) in descending order, from the highest case rate to the lowest.

ZIP CodePopulationCountRate Per 100kRate Per 10K
91917 & 9193594188809343.809726934.3809726
92173270972,4459023.139093902.3139093
92154799964,4635579.028951557.9028951
92113485502,5545260.556128526.0556128
91911848193,9304633.395819463.3395819
91950585362,5154296.501298429.6501298
92115614632,5204100.027659410.0027659
92020618952,2803683.657808368.3657808
92102423301,5593682.967163368.2967163
91910838343,0753667.962879366.7962879
92114580322,1213654.880066365.4880066
91932274489793566.744389356.6744389
91977609942,1193474.112208347.4112208
92105670782,2943419.899222341.9899222
92139332711,1323402.362418340.2362418
9197881192643251.631974325.1631974
92021686552,1753168.013983316.8013983
91915311199743129.920627312.9920627
92083391551,1823018.771549301.8771549
91914167815063015.31494301.531494
92019450941,3232933.871468293.3871468
91905 & 91906 & 91934 & 91962 & 91963 & 9198096482822922.885572292.2885572
91945272087862888.856219288.8856219
91913510771,4162772.284981277.2284981
92101 & 92134610111,6642727.37703272.737703
92027542031,4772724.941424272.4941424
91902176314802722.477454272.2477454
92055 & 92672412841,0192468.268579246.8268579
92025518201,2412394.828252239.4828252
92003 & 920845364412082251.882783225.1882783
92109541151,2132241.522683224.1522683
92069511711,1242196.556643219.6556643
92058241705222159.70211215.970211
92026562721,1552052.530566205.2530566
92065 & 92070371967602043.230455204.3230455
92059 & 92061 & 92082219664482039.515615203.9515615
91901179863612007.116646200.7116646
92057557511,0871949.740812194.9740812
91941342256621934.258583193.4258583
92108273435201901.766448190.1766448
92104520959731867.741626186.7741626
92110 & 92140341776301843.34494184.334494
92056553691,0181838.573931183.8573931
91942400267311826.312897182.6312897
92103396877231821.755235182.1755235
92111479438721818.826523181.8826523
92028490088851805.82762180.582762
92040441057701745.833806174.5833806
92029212013641716.900146171.6900146
92054424417281715.322448171.5322448
92120 & 92182316355391703.809072170.3809072
92071582139701666.29447166.629447
92123336445411608.013316160.8013316
92117521238231578.957466157.8957466
92116369455651529.300311152.9300311
92078 & 92096515617771506.95293150.695293
92119237303111310.577328131.0577328
92126 & 921457754310051296.055092129.6055092
92118 & 92135 & 92155241993081272.779867127.2779867
92081328914161264.783679126.4783679
92106222092791256.247467125.6247467
92008296533641227.531784122.7531784
92024563896921227.1897122.71897
92107309713781220.496594122.0496594
92037432855281219.822109121.9822109
92064504385921173.718228117.3718228
92124317053701167.008358116.7008358
92067 & 92091119171311099.26995109.926995
92010166811791073.077154107.3077154
92009433364641070.703341107.0703341
92014141381461032.677889103.2677889
92128517355331030.250314103.0250314
92011239622451022.452216102.2452216
92136124911261008.726283100.8726283
9200711483114992.771923799.27719237
9213136090345955.943474695.59434746
9212952626488927.298293692.72982936
9207512977119917.007012491.70070124
9212749511404815.980287281.59802872
91916 & 91931 & 91948 & 92036 & 92259757259779.186476577.91864765
92004 & 92060 & 92066 & 92086 & 92536803260747.011952274.70119522
9212248949358731.373470373.13734703
92093 & 921611130035309.734513330.97345133
92121 & 921306439398152.190455515.21904555
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