NBC 5 Investigate, working with the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in Houston, obtains an exclusive view of the Dallas environment where people who get COVID-19 are more likely to develop the most serious infections, which require critical care and ventilators.
The environment in the red zone in the map below has the highest prevalence of risk factors for severe COVID-19 disease. These conditions – heart disease, diabetes, stroke, asthma, COPD, kidney disease and obesity – are often factors that can cause coronavirus patients in hospitals that are already depressed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Map data provided by the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in Houston:
“The data was taken from two federal sources: American Community Survey 5-Summary Summary, from the US Census Bureau, released in December 2019, and the 500 Cities Project from the CDC. The 500 Cities Project offers chronic disease data, based on respondents’ self-reports from the Factor Survey Annual Behavioral Risk This data is presented at the census-tract level for the 500 largest cities in the US We combine the two data sources for each of the three cities and report them on the map that follows, because our aim is to highlight the areas with the highest risk in each city, we rank tracts separately and identify the top 20% with the highest scores. “
Mapping high-risk areas can be vital in preparing for a COVID-19 surge in the city, said Dr. Stephen Linder, director of the Institute for Health Policy at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston.
“Once they are mapped, we can better target our resources. We can target our efforts to the population that is most likely to place a demand on the hospital care system,” Linder said.
Linder and his team Dritana Marko and Thomas F. Reynolds analyzed data collected by the CDC and the U.S. Census Bureau to determine the census pathway with the highest prevalence of risk factors.
One such zone is east of the Central Expressway and south of Forest Lane. The others walked along the north side of Interstate 30, east of Loop 12 toward Downtown Dallas. And there is a red zone, east of Buckner Boulevard and north of Interstate 30, stretching to Mesquite.
But the biggest, and most unhealthy part of the city where people are at greatest risk is the wide stretch of southern Dallas that lies between US Highway 67 to the west and CF Hawn Freeway to the east. That is in an area where Linder’s team said COVID-19 cases were far more likely to require hospitalization.
“That is the south-central region where you have a census channel that has the highest prevalence, not only from one or two but up to seven different chronic disease conditions,” Linder said.
That’s where Edgar Love lives, in the Queen City neighborhood west of Fair Park.
“I live in a desert of food
as well as the desert family medical clinic. I have to go to their place, “said
Love, who is taking blood pressure medicine and is approaching 69th birthday.
It was Love’s neighborhood, and the others were marked in red, which caught the attention of Dallas District Judge Clay Jenkins when he looked at the map.
“We know that those are the places that need the most intensive intervention, if we have hope to stop this,” Jenkins said in an interview with NBC 5 Investigate.
Lots of flaws in southern Dallas
insurance, doctors are not present in the environment and chronic health conditions go away
left untreated, putting the population at great risk in a pandemic.
“That won’t be bad for
themselves and their families. This will hurt us all with the health of our community. And
now we see that, “Jenkins said.
Adding to the concern some Dallas County ZIP codes with the highest concentration of risk factors are among those where the virus has attacked hard.
On Tuesday, the District of Dallas Health and Human Services reported 75227 ZIP codes south of I-30 and along Buckner Boulevard and ZIP codes 75115 in DeSoto each had between 38 and 47 cases. 75216 ZIP codes in southeast Dallas have between 29 and 37 cases.
The Dallas County Health Department said it had surged into those areas, including a drive-thru virus testing site that was set up at Ellis Davis Field House at 9191 S. Polk Street.
“We have outreach workers who walk the streets in the area, put up special education materials, work with … some shop owners,” Dr. Philip Huang, director of the Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services.
Another setback in southern Dallas’s ability to prepare and protect against the corona virus is the fact that most major hospitals in other parts of the city, according to an analysis by NBC 5 partners at The Dallas Morning News.
The newspaper’s study showed residents in the neighborhood had to travel a longer distance to reach a full scale hospital. It does not take into account the Dallas VA Medical Center at 4500 S. Lancaster Road, which is limited to military veterans and, in some cases, their family members.
Many Covid-19 patients who are seriously ill in Dallas County suffer from diabetes. About one in every four who are treated in the ICU suffer from diabetes. In their study, UT Health researchers focused on the Dallas environment with the highest concentration of diabetics and heart disease and above the age of 60. They found one of the greatest concentrations of risk factors in the environment in southern Dallas near Interstate 45 and Interstate 20.
Alvaro Saenz, head of the MD Medical Group which serves low-income families in southern Dallas, said NBC 5 Investigate they work hard to keep patients current with their chronic health needs during a pandemic.
“We even honestly have people whose main job is to call patients and say,” Okay, did you take medicine this week? If not … ‘What can we help you with?’ “Saenz said.
Jenkins and Huang said they wanted to expand COVID-19 testing in environments identified as red zones on the map developed by UT Health, but limited test and funding capacity. But they said they were looking for ways to focus more on high-risk zones, knowing that detecting cases and reducing the spread of viruses in those areas could protect the most vulnerable.
“This is the population
it will suffer the most. And that’s why we care so much
putting as much resources in and supporting this field as we can, “Huang
He and other regional officials urged everyone to take extreme precautions during this crisis, wherever they live, because COVID-19 was not chosen by the ZIP code.
Everyone is at risk even if they do not live in an area where more people tend to develop severe infections.
In southern Dallas, Edgar Love
said that, like his neighbor, he heeded the warning – squatting and
hope the virus doesn’t come knocking on the door.
“I try to stay safe … try to stay as much as possible,” he said.
For more information about this story, see Wednesday’s edition of The Dallas Morning News. To view the complete UT Health study for Dallas, Austin and San Antonio open the document below.