For the first time, the San Mateo County Health Department has released a breakdown of known coronavirus cases by zip code. The numbers indicate the disease isn’t widespread on the coast, but experts warn not to make too much of that.
The breakdown shows 20 of the county’s 1,087 cases were in the 94019 zip code that includes Half Moon Bay as of Sunday. It shows fewer than 10 cases in each of the smaller towns listed — Montara, Pescadero, La Honda, San Gregorio and Moss Beach. The chart shows 37 cases in Pacifica.
The chart, published on the Health Department’s website, is below a warning against making too much of the numbers: “Cases by zip code do not represent, in any way, a true representation of the actual burden of disease in the geographic area.” That is because testing is not widespread enough to determine the true extent of the virus.
The chart indicates the numbers are accurate as of April 26 and that it will be updated on May 8.
Other jurisdictions have released data by town and city for weeks now. In the past, Health Department officials indicated that releasing information from small towns could constitute a violation of federal rules protecting medical records. They feared that neighbors could deduce who among them had the disease if they knew a small number of them had it.