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 Code||Population||Count||Rate Per 100k||Rate Per 10K|
|91917 & 91935||9418||880||9343.809726||934.3809726|
|91905 & 91906 & 91934 & 91962 & 91963 & 91980||9648||282||2922.885572||292.2885572|
|92101 & 92134||61011||1,664||2727.37703||272.737703|
|92055 & 92672||41284||1,019||2468.268579||246.8268579|
|92003 & 92084||53644||1208||2251.882783||225.1882783|
|92065 & 92070||37196||760||2043.230455||204.3230455|
|92059 & 92061 & 92082||21966||448||2039.515615||203.9515615|
|92110 & 92140||34177||630||1843.34494||184.334494|
|92120 & 92182||31635||539||1703.809072||170.3809072|
|92078 & 92096||51561||777||1506.95293||150.695293|
|92126 & 92145||77543||1005||1296.055092||129.6055092|
|92118 & 92135 & 92155||24199||308||1272.779867||127.2779867|
|92067 & 92091||11917||131||1099.26995||109.926995|
|91916 & 91931 & 91948 & 92036 & 92259||7572||59||779.1864765||77.91864765|
|92004 & 92060 & 92066 & 92086 & 92536||8032||60||747.0119522||74.70119522|
|92093 & 92161||11300||35||309.7345133||30.97345133|
|92121 & 92130||64393||98||152.1904555||15.21904555|