Prince George’s County continues to be the epicenter of Maryland’s coronavirus outbreak, with vast swaths of the county now reporting cumulative confirmed infection rates exceeding 500 cases per 100,000 residents as of April 26. Route 1 Reporter maps, using new ZIP code-based confirmed case data released by Maryland health officials over the past week bring the current state of the pandemic’s confirmed cases into stark relief.
Vast swaths of Maryland, which in 2010 housed 1.2 million residents according to Census data, now live within ZIP codes that have total confirmed case counts exceeding 500 cases per 100,000 residents. The interactive visualization below shows just how those case counts jumped in the past week across the state.
But total case counts might not paint an accurate picture of the situation on the ground right now. Gina Ford, spokesperson for Prince George’s County emphasized in an interview with Route 1 Reporter that the case county data released by the state only includes confirmed cases. Disparities in access to health care and a lack of widespread testing make it impossible to know the true extent of the outbreak in Maryland. The ZIP code maps below should not be relied on as a map of infection rates, rather, they merely map the rate of confirmed infections – and there’s a subtle–but–important distinction there.
Further, as we go deeper into the pandemic, total case counts also begin to lose situational utility. The virus has been circulating in the United States since January, according to experts. While the effects of the virus can linger for up to six weeks, some individuals infected early on are now recovered and healthy and – at least in theory – aren’t a contagion risk. But now that we have two weeks of daily ZIP code confirmed case counts, we can begin to calculate and track the number of new cases confirmed in the past two weeks for every ZIP code in Maryland, as we’ve done in the map below.
For those looking for a silver lining as the pandemic deepens in the days ahead, this might be a key number to track. The total cumulative case count number, after all, will always rise as long as the virus continues to spread. But the number of new cases in the past two weeks has the potential to fluctuate up and down from day to day. Persistent declines in this number could indicate a slowing rate of spread in a given area.
And like last week, we’ll leave you with our “emerging hotspots” map, below. Again – it’s hard to know the true extent of coronavirus in Maryland due to health care access disparities and a lack of widespread testing and tracing. With that being said, rural ZIP codes on the Eastern Shore, as well as several ZIP codes inside Baltimore and Washington, D.C.’s beltways saw some of the biggest jumps in the numbers of confirmed cases over the past seven days.
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