Georgia COVID-19 Update for African Americans: October 18, 2020

by Dr. Algernon Austin, Senior Researcher, Thurgood Marshall Institute

At this time, Georgia has the 15th highest COVID-19 death rate, and the 34th highest coronavirus-case rate among states in the United States. African Americans make up a disproportionate share of COVID-19 deaths in Georgia. Six of the top ten COVID-19 deaths hot spots in Georgia are in counties where African Americans make up a larger share of the population than their statewide average.

Georgia’s Covid Exit Strategy rating: Trending poorly.

As of October 18, 2020, Georgia had the 34th highest number of new coronavirus cases per 100,000 over the last seven days of any state in the United States. It had the 15th highest number of COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 over the same period.[1]

Since the start of October, the 7-day average number of new coronavirus cases in Georgia has been on an upward trend (Figure 1). The 7-day average number of new COVID-19 deaths has been generally trending downward since late August (Figure 2).

Using data collected on October 18, 2020 by the COVID Tracking Project, the Thurgood Marshall Institute (TMI) compared the share of Black people in Georgia to the share of Black people among Georgia’s COVID-19 deaths. While 32.6 percent of Georgians are Black, 40.0 percent of the COVID-19 deaths in the state were of Black people.[2]

African Americans in Georgia should urge state officials to find and address the specific root cause of this high rate of Black COVID-19 deaths. Is it due to inequalities in access to medical care or to differing rates of comorbidities? This is an answerable question, and Black Georgians should see that they receive the answer.

Black communities in Georgia should be highly vigilant about COVID-19. Six of the top ten hot spots for COVID-19 deaths are in counties that are disproportionately African American (Table). Three of them are majority African American. None of the top ten coronavirus-case hot spots are in counties where African Americans make up a larger share of the population than their statewide average. Since Black Georgians are disproportionately dying from COVID-19, they should use their voices to call for stronger policies and more resources to address the pandemic both nationally and in their state.

The Georgia Department of Public Health calls on residents to follow COVID-19 public health guidelines which include maintaining a six foot physical distance from others in public, wearing face masks when not at home, washing one’s hands frequently, and staying home if you are sick.[3] The Department of Public Health is also urging all Georgians to get a flu shot. “Now more than ever, influenza vaccination is critical not only to protect people from getting sick, but to reduce the burden on our healthcare system already caring for COVID-19 patients,” said Dr. Kathleen E. Toomey, Department of Public Health commissioner.[4]

Additional Resources

Georgia Department of Public Health: https://dph.georgia.gov/

Covid Exit Strategy: https://www.covidexitstrategy.org/

Answers to frequently asked questions about the new coronavirus by the New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/world/coronavirus-tips-advice.html

[1] Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest map and case count, N.Y. Times (Oct. 19, 2020), https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html.

[2] The Black share of deaths is a conservative estimate. 1.4 percent of the COVID-19 deaths are of an unknown race. If any of these unknowns are Black, then the Black share of cases and deaths would be higher.

[3] Stop the Spread, Ga. Dep’t of Pub. Health (last visited Oct. 19, 2020), https://dph.georgia.gov/.

[4] Press Release, DPH Urges All Georgians to Get a Flu Shot, Ga. Dep’t of Pub. Health (Oct. 13, 2020), https://dph.georgia.gov/press-releases/2020-10-13/dph-urges-all-georgians-get-flu-shot.