South King County is a hotspot for COVID-19

Communities in South King County are experiencing a higher percentage of tests coming back positive for COVID-19.

Inside Designing Diva’s Hair Salon, Vivian Bentley feels like she’s at war with the monster virus.

“Really washing down everything I touch, everything my client touches,” Bentley said.

But no amount of cleaning can make her feel 100% safe.

“It’s one of those lingering thoughts in your head, I hope I don’t get it today,” Bentley said.

Bentley is closely following the data that shows her city of Burien and other South King County areas seeing the highest percentage of positive cases of COVID-19.

It doesn’t necessarily mean there are more deaths but it does mean there is a higher level of the virus looming in those communities.

For example South Auburn is seeing a 12% postivity rate.

Other jurisdictions in South King County with high rates include Kent, SeaTac, Tukwila, Federal Way and North Highline. At least one in 10 people in those areas who got tested for the virus received a positive result.

White Center and Burien are also seeing spikes.

“People listen to the science, do what the science says,” Bentley said.

Data shows African Americans, Hispanics and Pacific Islanders are disproportionately impacted with hospitalizations significantly higher than whites or Asians.

“Petrified because I can bring it home, I am taking care of my 73-year-old mother,” Bentley said.

Bentley says she wishes she didn’t have to work since her job requires contact. But she has no choice.

 “Somebody’s got to pay the bills,” Bentley said.

COVID-19 is underscoring glaring inequities.

Health experts say more low-income people live in South King County and work in service jobs.

In less affluent communities, there are fewer resources and access to healthy foods as well as inadequate healthcare. Those factors can often become the root of underlying health conditions.

Bentley says in the black community, multigenerational families often live under the same roof in order to afford rent.

“A lot of communities live together,” Bentley said.

That allows the virus to spread more.

It’s going to get worse before it gets better, hopefully, we can bridge the gap,” Bentley said.

Bentley says although the data is scary, it is also vital because it keeps people aware. It also sheds light on where leaders need to focus their energy.

The Burien business owner says last week’s mask giveaway in South King County was a good effort but she hopes those events would be more frequent.

She also says cities need to provide more information on grants and loans for businesses to stay afloat.