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These NC zip codes have the highest number of people vulnerable to COVID-19

For the first time, WCNC Charlotte is also mapping out by zip code where the most vulnerable people live based on age.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A WCNC Charlotte Defenders investigation is breaking down where the most vulnerable people live in a way you haven't seen before.

The Defenders team found staggering results after analyzing state mortality data for COVID-19. WCNC Charlotte found the virus is killing black people at nearly twice the rate as white people.

For the first time, WCNC Charlotte is also mapping out by zip code where the most vulnerable people live based on age. Experts say people 65 and older are at the highest risk of a serious infection or even death. 

The issue becomes increasingly important as the state begins to reopen and more people leave their homes.

WCNC Charlotte learned some zip codes have a few hundred people in that age group, but others have thousands. After you see what the Defenders team found, you might think twice about social distancing.

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For 91-year-old Virginia Chambers, caution has replaced companionship.  

“I'm very concerned,” Chambers said. “I have not seen anyone since the shutdown.”

Instead of venturing out, she’s forced to accept vulnerability.

“With my breathing problem, if I get pneumonia or the virus, it may do me in,” said Chambers.

In fact, Chambers says she has not left her home since March, except to go to the laundry room. She says the only faces she sees are the staff at the Carmel Place retirement community, but no friends or family.

“I have not seen anyone since the shutdown,” Chambers said.

WCNC Charlotte asked if she’s used Zoom meetings to see her family. She responded by saying, “No. I'm 91, I'm not very technical," as she laughed.

Chambers keeps her sense of humor, even though it’s no laughing matter. 

She is among more than 6,500 people who are 65 years or older in her zip code, 28226. That age group represents 84% of people who’ve died from COVID-19 in North Carolina, according to state data.

“Those that are 65 and up are at increased risk of more serious risk of complications or even death,” said Dr. Karla Robinson, a family physician.

With that in mind, the Defenders team crunched census data to see where the most vulnerable people live.

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WCNC Charlotte found zip code 28227, which includes Mint Hill, has more than 8,000 people ages 65 and up. That’s the highest of any zip code in the county.  

It’s followed by 28277 where Ballantyne is, then comes 28269 in North Charlotte, 28195 in the Matthews area, and 28210 in South Charlotte.  

“If you are in one of those zip codes, just be mindful that the places that you frequent, the areas that you visit, you might encounter someone that is in this high-risk population,” said Dr. Robinson.

“They may stay home or maybe the ones that are out there will give it second thoughts,” said Chambers.

It’s not only about age. The Defenders team found a major disparity with race in North Carolina, too. 

Based on state mortality data, one in about 9,000 black people has died of COVID-19. That’s compared to one in roughly 17,000 white people who have died of the virus.

“What COVID-19 has taught us if nothing else is to certainly be more concerned and considerate of our neighbor,” said Dr. Robinson.

“The ones I resent are these protesters that are out there protesting and not even wearing masks,” Chambers said.

Chambers reminds us of the delicate balance between sacrificing important parts of life and living it.

“I miss very much going to church service this year, and exercise we have here,” Chambers said. “I'd rather go ahead and miss them then catch the virus.”

Below is a full list of the number of people who are 65 years or older in each zip code:

  • 28036 —  2,258   
  • 28031 —  3,890  
  • 28078 —  5,578  
  • 28214  — 3,816  
  • 28216 —  5,077    
  • 28269 — 7,319  
  • 28262 — 2,368   
  • 28213 — 3,215  
  • 28206 — 1,305   
  • 28208 — 3,613   
  • 28215 —  6,018   
  • 28205 —  4,076   
  • 28207 —  1,553  
  • 28204  — 449       
  • 28203 —  907         
  • 28209 —  2,319    
  • 28217 — 1,992     
  • 28278 —  2,289      
  • 28273 — 2,976         
  • 28211 — 5,148     
  • 28210 —  6,708    
  • 28134  — 1,710    
  • 28277 —  7,632     
  • 28270 —  4,624      
  • 28105 —  7,009      
  • 28227 —  8,006     
  • 28212 —  3,647      
  • 28226 —  6,538    

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