The Investigators: Why one zip code has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Shelby County

38118 had anywhere from 122 to 213 cases as of April 28

The Investigators: Why one zip code has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Shelby County

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Health officials are keeping a watchful eye on the number of COVID-19 cases in one Shelby County community.

As of April 28, the 38118 zip code had the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county.

It is home to Parkway Village and Oakhaven in Memphis, and has the highest percentage of positive COVID-19 tests.

In a press conference Wednesday, the Shelby County Health Department Director addressed why she believes there’s a high transmission rate in that community.

“These are people who live very closely together in the same neighborhood,” Dr. Alisa Haushalter. “We do know there’s transmission based on family relationships, social relationships and not just neighborhood relationships but individuals who may go to the same facilities. They may or may not have been practicing good social distancing.”

Anywhere from 929 to 1,100 people have been tested for COVID-19 in 38118, which is on par with many other zip codes in Shelby County, according to data provided by the health department.

More than 13% of those tests came back positive, which totals more than 122 cases in that one area.

Dr. Scott Strome is Executive Dean of UTHSC’s College of Medicine. He told The Investigators that testing symptomatic people is crucial for contract tracing in cluster locations and beyond.

He also suggests the racial makeup of 38118 may contribute to its higher case numbers because data shows African-Americans are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

“That should not be inferred to mean that African-Americans are more likely to get the disease,” said Dr. Strome. “It simply means that most likely, because we notice this disease has clusters, that this is where right now we’re seeing the disease in Memphis.”

The good news for the people who live in that community is that new testing already shows the positivity rate is going down.

“So we believe getting the messages out through media is helping people know that they have more transmission in their community and they are improving social distancing,” said Dr. Haushalter.

Dr. Haushalter said more testing will be done in 38118 as well.

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