If “ZIP code” is the home Jeopardy! game answer, what’s the question?

You are correct if you said, “What is the most popular item on El Paso County’s COVID-19 dashboard?”

Where coronavirus cases are happening around the county appear to be what people want to know more than anything, said Stephen Goodwin, chief data scientific strategist for El Paso County Public Health.

“It was the most requested feature of our dashboard,” he said.

The county health department added ZIP code data six months ago to its online statistical analysis of local pandemic activity.

The information is updated daily, which “makes it more fun” for people to study, Goodwin said.

“It engages people to ponder and look around,” he said. “People like to interact with maps, and ZIP code is a very convenient mechanism to get a geo-location.”

The dashboard is available at https://www.elpasocountyhealth.org/covid19data-dashboard.

Out of 683,317 El Paso County residents, 173,879 tests have been administered and 13,245 positive cases have been recorded, according to Friday's dashboard.

The hottest location is 80906, where 1,221 COVID-19 cases were tallied as of Friday. The area stretches south and west of the city, from The Broadmoor neighborhood to Stratmoor and into Security-Widefield.

But more COVID tests have been conducted in 80909 — 12,697. In 80906, 11,349 tests have been administered.

Officials don't verify that the addresses provided by those being tested are accurate, and those who are homeless may use an address such as shelter or soup kitchen, county analysts said. 

County health has used the postal code compilations to add more “low-barrier” — no-cost and easy access — COVID testing sites, said Fadi Youkhana, applied epidemiologist for the department.

A testing center opened at The Citadel shopping center in recent months, and last week three new satellite testing sites launched in Fountain, Monument and the Falcon/Peyton areas.

Along with virus infections by ZIP code, data geeks and trend watchers can view the number of positive cases, hospitalizations, deaths, recoveries, outbreaks, testing information and breakdowns by age, race and ethnicity. Interactive graphs and charts illustrate the statistics.

ZIP code data is presented over recent time periods, for the past seven, 10 and 14 days.

That’s useful, Youkhana said, for people to understand which areas of town have larger amounts of infection in real time.

Socio-economic information is not collected on intake forms. But as has been true of statewide and national COVID cases, lower-income neighborhoods in El Paso County have higher rates of infection.

“We do see higher numbers there, hence the low-barrier testing,” Youkhana said. “It’s not a unique discovery; it’s been consistent nationally in communities with lower economic status.”

Two of the top five ZIP codes with the most cases, 80910 and 80916, are in southeast Colorado Springs, which has lower household incomes than other areas of the city, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The five highest concentrations of cases are in 80916, 80910, 80906, 80909 and 80918.

Those match the most densely populated areas of the county, with the exception of 80920, which has the third-highest amount of residents, but the seventh most cases.

Also, 80910 is the ninth most populated postal code, but it has the second most cases.

Among the limitations of ZIP code tracking are congregant living facilities, such as assisted living centers, Youkhana said, where multiple cases can have one address listed.

“It’s not meant to be the primary tool; it’s just one of the tools,” he said.

COVID-19 deaths by ZIP code are not provided.

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.

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