Hispanic regions driving rise in COVID calls in Washington

Daily calls about COVID-19 to 2-1-1 in Washington are rising fast, driven largely by areas of the state with large Hispanic populations. With the pandemic entering its fifth month, COVID-19 requests in Washington have shifted dramatically from population centers near Seattle to south central Washington, a region with the largest proportional Hispanic population in the state. We analyzed 40,168 COVID-19 requests to 2-1-1 in Washington from March 12 to July 9, 2020, examining how they differ by the proportion of Hispanic/Latino population in each ZIP code. After peaking early in the pandemic, statewide COVID-19 requests to 2-1-1 have declined until a recent upswing in late June (left chart). However, examining COVID-19 requests from low-Hispanic ZIP codes (middle chart) and high-Hispanic ZIP codes (right chart) shows a stark difference: nearly all of the recent rise in COVID-19 calls are accounted for by high-Hispanic ZIP codes. The accompanying maps reinforce this finding: the distribution of Hispanic population in Washington shows high-Hispanic ZIP codes in darker colors (left map), while the map at right shows in orange the ZIP codes with the largest recent increases in COVID-19 calls to 2-1-1. The alignment of the maps is unmistakable. ZIP codes with < 10% Hispanic/Latino population were classified as “low-Hispanic” ZIP codes, while those with > 50% Hispanic/Latino population were classified as “high-Hispanic.” ZIP codes with no COVID-19 requests to 2-1-1 during the study period were excluded from the maps. Recent increase in COVID-19 calls show the percentage change in daily average requests from before June (March 12 – May 31) to after June (June 1 – July 9). Statewide population demographic data came from the U.S. Census Bureau 2014-2018 American Community Survey 5-year Estimates.

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