How hard you’re hit by the coronavirus pandemic could be determined by your ZIP code. That’s according to researchers looking into how the outbreak has impacted the economic and food security of people in Washington state.
Adam Drewnowski, an epidemiologist and director of the Center for Public Health Nutrition at the University of Washington, has mapped things like obesity, diabetes and heart disease in prior work — down to the ZIP code and census block. He found poorer areas tend to have unhealthier diets and higher rates of disease.
He and his colleague, Jennifer Otten, recently compared those maps to ones that showed where COVID-19 is hitting hardest.
“We never thought back in the day that the ZIP code could also determine your susceptibility to an infectious disease. And yet it can,” Drewnowski said. “So this all goes back to social disparities and the resources that people have and do not have.”
So, they have launched a statewide survey in cooperation with researchers at Washington State University and Tacoma Community College, as well as partners in local, county and state governments.
They’re asking people about their employment situation, shopping habits and food security since the pandemic began. The data will be correlated by ZIP code and county.
“This has major implications on resilience and who will suffer and who will come out okay,” Drewnowski said. “We want to make sure that there is information available to state and local authorities and to policymakers, about people who are suffering the most.”
They’ll close the first round of surveys at the end of July and hope their results will inform policy decisions for recovery from the effects of COVID-19. Anyone in the state can take part via this link.