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News about coronavirus in Florida and around the world is constantly emerging. It's hard to stay on top of it all but Health News Florida and WUSF can help. Our responsibility at WUSF News is to keep you informed, and to help discern what’s important for your family as you make what could be life-saving decisions.

Epidemiologist On COVID Risk: Less Where You Live, More What You Do

Zip code 32304 is considered one of Florida's poorest. Low-income families live alongside college students who are more likely to be infected with the coronavirus. But Epidemiologist Dr. Perry Brown says the risk low-income families in the area have has less to do with living near college students and more to do with the choices they make every day.
Zip code 32304 is considered one of Florida's poorest. Low-income families live alongside college students who are more likely to be infected with the coronavirus. But Epidemiologist Dr. Perry Brown says the risk low-income families in the area have has less to do with living near college students and more to do with the choices they make every day.

Of concern is the proximity of residents in the poorest zip code in Tallahassee, with a high chance of contracting coronavirus, to Florida State University students.

In the state's poorest zip code, 32304 in Tallahassee, low-income residents live side by side with college students. That's raising concerns since local coronavirus cases are rising among college-aged people, and low-income people tend to face more negative health impacts if they're infected.

The median age for Leon County residents who've tested positive with the coronavirus in the past few weeks is 19-to-21. That includes more than 1,200 Florida State University students. Some of those students live in the 32304 zip code, where many low-income families also reside. Epidemiologist Dr. Perry Brown says the proximity between those two groups could be concerning.

"The incidence of a particular condition may be greater in lower-income areas. Certainly, the results of being infected are often very different between lower-income and higher-income communities," Brown says.

32304 makes up about 30% of Leon County's total COVID-19 cases. But Brown says regardless of where someone lives, everyone is at risk for catching the disease.

"Every day, we are all at risk. Every time we have an interaction with an individual—we're all at risk," Brown says.

Brown says, just living next door to someone who has the virus doesn't necessarily mean you'll get it. He says it's more about what someone does that determines their risk of catching the disease.

Mayor John Dailey says all residents need to work together if they hope to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.

"You don't police your way out of this. The city cannot be the only responsible party, nor can the university community. It's going to take everybody in Leon County working together. Social distance and wear your mask," Dailey says.

Copyright 2020 WFSU. To see more, visit WFSU.