Coronavirus Cases Demographics

This dashboard summarizes the demographics of coronavirus cases for the Northern Virginia region and its health districts.  The coronavirus information is sourced from the Virginia Department of Health.  Track cases, deaths, and hospitalizations by demographic.  The dashboard is updated weekly on Thursdays. 

Factors such as racial and ethnic disparities in health insurance and income, as well as obesity and chronic health conditions may play a role in the people of color and Hispanic ethnicity having COVID-19 vulnerabilities.  This dashboard's demographic data will help inform efforts, now and in the future, to curb racial disparities and inequities that exist by socioeconomic status and race/ethnicity.  For more information on coronavirus racial disparities, vulnerable populations, and the importance of monitoring the vulnerable populations during the pandemic, the CDC has an excellent website: COVID-19 in Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups.

** It is important to first understand the limitations of the data before drawing conclusions from the data that is presented. Please see the interpretation and limitations section that is after the dashboard.  **

To navigate the dashboard displayed below:

1) Select the health data variable of interest: cases, deaths, or hospitalizations.

2) Select the demographic for the bar chart: race, ethnicity, or age.

3) Select the health district of interest.  The default is Northern Virginia, which is actually not a health district, but this option is provided for regional summarization of the region's health districts.

Interpretation and Limitations of the Cases Demographic Data

Interpretation of the Data

It is important to first understand the limitations of the data before drawing conclusions from the data that is presented in this dashboard.

Reported and Unreported Demographics of Cases, Limitations

  • Race and ethnicity: Not reported for a large number of cases, deaths, and hospitalizations.  Laboratories do not routinely report race and ethnicity to health departments, which makes collection of this data difficult. The distribution and rates of cases by race and ethnicity should be interpreted with caution knowing that they are under-reported.  The amount and distribution of cases with race and ethnicity reported and not reported are provided in the dashboard as a measure and guide on the under-reporting and the caution that needs to be taken when interpreting the race and ethnicity data.  To better and more accurately assess and implement programs to prevent the inequities and racial disparities that are present during this COVID-19 pandemic, it is important for health care providers and states to more thoroughly collect this information.

 

  • Age: Reported for most cases.  Only a small percentage of cases are missing age data.  All Northern Virginia cases associated with a death have age reported. Only one hospitalization case in Northern Virginia did not report age.  This thorough collection of age information leads to accurate findings on age distributions for cases, deaths, and hospitalizations.

Race Categorization, Limitations

Virginia's race data classifications for health data sets such as COVID cases is not consistent with the Census Bureau.  The Census Bureau population data is used for comparison to health data because it is the primary federal data source for population by race and ethnicity data for the nation, states, counties/cities, and sub-regions of counties.  The Census Bureau classifies Hispanic/Latino populations in any race category, with the majority of respondents considering themselves white persons and not “other” race.  Based on the presented health data by race and ethnicity it appears that many Hispanic/Latino ethnicities may have been classified as “other”.  Without knowing exactly how much of a disparity there is in the classifications of white and "other" among the Census Bureau and health data, use caution when interpreting these two racial categories.  The black and African American data, as well as the ethnic data, likely have minimal conflicts in classification between the Census Bureau and health data, which makes for reliable comparisons for these populations.

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