Publication Date

Spring 2022

Degree Type

Master's Project

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration (MPA)


Urban and Regional Planning

First Advisor

Frances Edwards


COVID-19, California Bay Area, Pandemic, Demographics, Ethnicities


The world experienced a novel coronavirus disease outbreak in Wuhan, China in December of 2019 (Dhillon et al., 2020). Within months it spread worldwide, becoming a pandemic known as the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV2 or COVID-19 (Hunter, 2020). COVID- 19 continued to spread, with public health officials worldwide urging countries to enact stay-at-home orders that could decrease the fast spread of the virus. The Chinese government's official report states that the virus originated in the Huanan Seafood Market located in Wuhan in October of 2019 (Dhillon et al., 2020). The World Health Organization (WHO) was alerted of the virus within a month of when the first individual with the virus was discovered (Park et al., 2020). Despite this, it was not until January 2020 that WHO’s Emergency Committee announced a worldwide public health emergency due to the alarming increase of cases of COVID-19 at Chinese and international locations (Velavan & Meyer, 2020). COVID-19 is deadly, causing public health officials to work around the clock to slow its spread.

In 2020, the United States had more positive cases cumulatively than any other country globally, at more than 13 million. The transmission rate of the virus is high, as the United States reported 1.5 million deaths as of November 2020 (Johns Hopkins University and Medicine, 2020a). As the pandemic spread through the country, disparities in the illness’ impact became noticeable. Some of the differences in infection rates among different ethnicities may be due to socioeconomic, health, insurance, and medical care access (Hawkins, 2020). This study will focus on selected western Bay Area counties in California, home to a diverse population of many races and ethnicities. The analysis includes the rate of positive COVID-19 cases in selected Bay Area counties by ethnicity, age, and gender. What does the data reveal about the rate of positive COVID-19 cases within different ethnicities? What factors may contribute to the impact of COVID-19 on different populations?