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Where COVID-19 has increased the most in Georgia - and why

Data shows that outbreaks are happening in different spots and for different reasons, one expert suggests.

HALL COUNTY, Ga. — This article was originally published on June 22. For the latest on COVID-19 in Georgia, click here.

People are still talking about the big jump in cases over the weekend, and 1,800 new COVID-19 cases have a way of getting your attention. 

While the number of cases since Saturday has not been as high, the average of new daily cases is still trending up. Overall, the metro Atlanta area is where the largest number of new cases is coming from.

Gwinnett, by far, leads the pack with 843 new cases in the past week. It also had the highest number of new patients going to the hospital with 66. Fulton and DeKalb were tied with 339 new COVID cases, Cobb with 275, and Hall rounded out the top five here in the metro with 180 new cases in the past seven days. 

Emory epidemiologist Jodi Guest has spent the past six weeks in Hall county. She said the outbreak there, mostly associated with the poultry industry, shows that outbreaks are happening in different spots and for different reasons.

"They didn’t have the privilege of staying home. So, when the rest of us were telecommuting at home in March and April and May, and I’m still at my home when I’m not out in the field, they didn’t have that opportunity or privilege so their risk continued the entire time," Guest said.

Credit: Georgia Department of Public Health
COVID cases per 100,000 in Georgia on June 22, 2020

Looking at the communities that are actually feeling the virus the hardest, the percentage of a county’s population impacted, it’s the more rural southwestern part of the state.

And some of the smaller city centers are reporting new case counts not far off from the metro. Lowndes County, with the city of Valdosta, reported 260 new cases this past week. Troup County, with the city Lagrange, had 186.

"When we go to middle Georgia, we see a lot of African American population outbreaks," Guest said. "Again, having a lot of crowded living conditions, living below the poverty line, underlying health conditions that are higher than we’d like to see with very, very high rates of obesity and high blood pressure."

While most counties now have testing sites, they often require you to drive up - a barrier for those without transportation. And they have the National Guard or security discouraging those who don’t trust the system. 

Guest said that to tackle this virus, we’re going to have to think about what’s happening in each community and get creative.


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