RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Nearly one quarter of the 29 ZIP codes in North Carolina with the most confirmed coronavirus cases contains a nursing home with one of the state’s 15 worst active outbreaks, a CBS17.com data analysis found.
Data from the state Department of Health and Human Services also shows those ZIP codes combine to account for 27 percent of the state’s total 81,331 cases.
Taken together, those statistics illustrate both the clustering nature of COVID-19 outbreaks and a correlation between affected nursing homes and the communities they serve.
The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, a trade association that lobbies for nursing homes and assisted living centers, has cited studies from Harvard, Brown and the University of Chicago that point to the connection between community spread and nursing home outbreaks.
According to DHHS, 29 of North Carolina’s roughly 1,100 ZIP codes has at least 500 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19, with those spots combining for 21,930 of them.
CBS17.com found seven of those hot spots have a nursing home that is presently dealing with an active outbreak involving at least 89 people, either residents or staff.
Three are in the Triangle, with ZIP codes in Chatham, Orange and Durham counties each containing at least 695 total cases along with a nursing home with at least 108 cases.
In all, 4,801 of the total cases involve nursing homes and 3,654 more are linked to other forms of congregate living centers — residential care facilities, correctional facilities or other similar arrangements.
DHHS data also show three ZIP codes have recorded more than 1,000 cases — including one in Raleigh with 1,152 cases.
The other two are in the Charlotte area, with the 28215 ZIP code leading the state with 1,222 cases. In all, that region has 13 of the ZIP codes with more than 500 cases.
That explains, at least in part, why DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen expressed the agency’s concern earlier this week about the potential for overcrowding hospitals in the Charlotte area.
Durham has four ZIP codes with more than 600 cases apiece.