Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Whitfield County’

Your TIGC weekend Covid-19 update: Things are bad and getting worse

Last weekend TIGC reported that 70 Georgia counties qualified as Covid-19 “red zones” and that the bug appeared to be mounting a new assault on Metro Atlanta from its fortifications in the North Georgia mountains.

Today we can report that the number of counties whose seven-day rates exceed 100 cases per 100,000 people — the “red zone” threshold set by the White House Coronovirus Task Force — is up to 96, and all 12 Metro Atlanta counties are now included in that group.

This is, obviously, part of a national trend. The AJC reported this morning that Georgia is one of 48 states that qualify as red zones. But, as usual, virus’s attacks are far from uniform, and it seems to move from one region to another in an almost deliberate manner. These two maps show its progression out of the North Georgia hills over the past week.

At the same time, the virus seems to be giving much of rural Middle and South Georgia a bit of a breather. This doesn’t mean that the virus has gone away, just that — for the moment — the seven-day case rate has fallen below the 100 cases per 100,000 people level.

But that could change, and quickly. As the bug has re-invaded Metro Atlanta, it also seems to be knifing its way back down I-75 and could easily branch off into the rural counties to the east or west.

At the moment, Whitfield and Murray counties, side-by-side neighbors on the Tennessee line, jointly constitute the hottest spot in the state. Combined, their seven-day case rate is 511.27 per 100,000 people — more than five times what it takes to qualify as a Covid-19 “red zone” — and their combined seven-day death rate is 7.59 per 100,000. The state average for the past seven days was 1.56 deaths per 100,000. The state’s three largest counties — Fulton, Gwinnett and DeKalb — had seven-day death rates of .45 per 100,000 people, .72, and .76, respectively.

The cause of the Whitfield-Murray outbreak isn’t clear. The Daily Citizen-News, the newspaper in the Whitfield county seat of Dalton, has covered the outbreak — including stories on the reluctance of local officials to impose a mask mandate — and editorialized about it. But a limited scan of its online stories (before the paywall came up) failed to find anything about what might be driving the outbreak.

In an editorial published today (November 21), the Daily Citizen-News noted Whitfield’s unhappy standing at the top of the new case-rate list and lamented the lack of citizen observance of recommended public health practices.

” … (M)any of us ignore the advice of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as we refuse to wear masks and/or practice social distancing. The lack of masks and social distancing is evident all over town. We have to do better,” the newspaper added.

(c) Trouble in God’s Country 2020

Covid-19 making Sherman-like march to the sea

Having laid waste to southwest Georgia, the Covid-19 virus now appears to be making its way east across a swath of rural counties that largely escaped the virus for the first few months of the pandemic.

Like the Union General William Tecumseh Sherman, the Covid-19 forces are marching to the sea.

The bug long ago breached I-75 and began blazing a trail across a cluster of roughly 40 largely rural counties in southeast and east-central Georgia on its way to the coast.

It has, in fact, already reached Brunswick and Glynn County, where the infection rate is up more than 1,300 percent since Memorial Day, according to the latest data from the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH).  On Memorial Day – May 25th – Glynn County reported 87 confirmed cases of Covid-19; on Tuesday, July 7th, that number was up to 1,231.

As usual, with this kind of data, it’s helpful to map it.  For the purposes of this map, I’ve excluded all counties that didn’t have an infection growth rate of at least 100 percent during the May 25-July 7 period.Ga Counties with 100% Increases

Hence the blank area over virtually all of southwest Georgia on this map.  (The shading on this map is intended to illustrate the extent of the increase in a county’s Covid-19 infections; the darker the shade, the bigger the increase from May 25th to July 7th.)

All the missing counties had May 25-July 7 growth rates of less than 100 percent, most of them dramatically under that level.  While those counties – once arguably the worst Covid-19 hotspot in the world – are still adding cases, the pace of that growth has slowed dramatically.

As one example, Albany and Dougherty County, ground zero for the Southwest Georgia outbreak, reported a total of 1,727 confirmed cases on Memorial Day; since then, it’s added 303 new cases, an increase of 17.5 percent that pushed its total to 2,030.

An hour or so to the southeast, Lowndes County reported 249 confirmed cases on Memorial Day; as of Tuesday, it had added 1,410 new cases, for a total of 1,659 and a growth rate for the May 25-July 7 period of 566.3 percent.  Lowndes County may not depose Dougherty as the Covid-19 king of South Georgia, but it has a fair chance of catching it if the current trends continue.

While the 40 or so east-central and southeast Georgia counties highlighted in the map constitute the biggest area of Covid-19 growth, other important sub-regions are being hit as well.  A number border counties showed significant growth during the May 25-July 7 period, including a cluster of counties anchored by Muscogee County on the Alabama line and another group in Georgia’s northwest corner.  Whitfield County, center of the state’s vital carpet industry, posted a 417 percent increase during the six-week period, and four mountain counties that border North Carolina — Fannin, Towns, Union and Rabun — are reporting significant increases.