Linn County’s black and Latino residents are disproportionately testing positive for COVID-19

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2019 novel coronavirus — CDC

Linn County Public Health unveiled a new version of its COVID-19 website on Thursday, with a dashboard that displays up-to-date information on the total number of confirmed cases in the county, which can be viewed by zip code, age group, race and ethnicity.

As of 1 p.m. on Thursday, there were 507 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 33 deaths in Linn County. A total of 241 residents have recovered. (The Iowa Department of Public Health was only reporting 479 cases and 29 deaths among Linn County residents on Thursday, but the IDPH’s reporting has a one-day time-lag.)

The dashboard features a map with the county’s confirmed cases by zip code. In addition to the numbers of confirmed cases and death, the dashboard displays up-to-date numbers on how many residents have recovered from the virus. Data showing how all those numbers change from day-to-day is also available.

Linn County cases by zip code, April 23, 2020.

Before Thursday, data on race and ethnicity of those who test positive for COVID-19 was only available online at the state level. In Iowa, black and Latino residents are testing at disproportionate rates. The same is true in other states.

At a LCPH press conference on Monday, Clinical Services Supervisor Heather Meador said, “We are looking at that data because we know that there are populations that are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. We do want to be looking at that information, so we can look at how we can best serve those communities that are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.”

Linn County’s data shows that its Latino and black residents are testing positive for the virus at higher rates.

According to U.S. Census Bureau population estimates from 2019, Latinos make up 3.4 percent of the county’s total population, but they are 5.52 percent (28 of 507 cases) of the confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The disparity is even greater when looking at race. Of the 507 county residents who have tested positive, 153 — or 30.2 percent — are black. Linn County’s total population is 5.9 percent black.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Linn County by race and ethnicity on April 23, 2020.

The dashboard also includes information on confirmed cases by age group.

Child 0-17: 5
Adult 18-40: 191
Middle age 41-60: 163
Older adult 61-80: 100
Elderly 81 and up: 48

“COVID-19 is clearly impacting us all,” Supervisor Stacey Walker said during a LCPH press conference on Thursday. “There is no generational divide with this virus.”

The new dashboard also includes statewide data from IDPH, as well as information about community transmission of the virus in the county and various other COVID-19 resources.

LCPH has made sure the site is accessible to people who don’t read English easily.

“The website has the ability to translate the information into multiple languages,” Meador said on Thursday. “This new capability allows the community to understand the impact of COVID-19 within Linn County. We are using this information to reach populations that may be unequally impacted by COVID-19. This includes providing additional outreach materials to impacted communities.”

To translate the website into a language other than English, there is a blue square button on the left side of the screen. After clicking on it, users can select the language they want, and most of the website will automatically translate.

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