Special Report

These Are the Counties In the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA Metro Area Where COVID-19 Is Growing the Fastest

After adding over 3,841,000 new cases throughout the last week, the U.S. now has more than 56.8 million confirmed cases of COVID-19. There have been more than 820,000 COVID-19-related deaths — the highest death toll of any country.

New cases continue to rise at a faster rate. In the past week, there were an average of 113.5 daily new coronavirus cases per 100,000 Americans — an increase from the week prior, when there were an average of 57.0 daily new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people.

While COVID-19 has spread to nearly every part of the country, cities continue to be the sites of major outbreaks. Experts agree that the virus is more likely to spread in group settings where large numbers of people routinely have close contact with one another, such as colleges, nursing homes, bars, and restaurants. Metropolitan areas with a high degree of connectivity between neighborhoods and a large population may be particularly at-risk.

In the 50 largest metro areas, the incidence of coronavirus grew at an average rate of 139.8 new cases a day per 100,000 residents in the past week — 31.2% greater than the case growth in all counties outside of metro areas.

The Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA, metro area consists of Fulton County, Gwinnett County, DeKalb County, and 26 other counties. In the past week, there were an average of 148.1 new coronavirus cases every day per 100,000 Atlanta residents, greater than the national figure. The metro area’s average daily case growth in the most recent week is an increase from the week prior, when there was an average of 68.2 daily new cases per 100,000 Atlanta residents.

The spread of coronavirus depends on a variety of factors and can vary even between neighboring counties. Within the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta metro area, COVID-19 is growing the fastest in Douglas County. There were an average of 200.7 new cases per day per 100,000 residents in Douglas County during the past week, the most of the 29 counties in Atlanta with available data.

Case growth in the Atlanta metro area varies widely at the county level. In Haralson County, for example, there were an average of 65.6 new cases per day per 100,000 residents in the past week — the least of any county in Atlanta and far more than the case growth rate in Douglas County.

While Douglas County is driving the growth of COVID-19 in the Atlanta area, it does not have the highest incidence of cases overall. As of January 6, there were a total of 19,495.4 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents in Douglas County, the 11th most of the 29 counties in the metro area. For comparison, the U.S. has so far reported 17,506.5 cases per 100,000 Americans nationwide.

In order to slow the spread of COVID-19, city and county governments have ordered the closure of thousands of consumer-facing businesses. These measures have led to widespread job loss and record unemployment. In Douglas County, unemployment peaked at 12.7% in April 2020. As of June 2021, the county’s unemployment rate was 5.0%.

To determine the county in every metropolitan area where COVID-19 is growing the fastest, 24/7 Wall St. compiled and reviewed data from state and local health departments. We ranked counties according to the average number of new daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents in the seven days ending January 6. To estimate the incidence of COVID-19 at the metropolitan level, we aggregated data up from the county level using boundary definitions from the U.S. Census Bureau. Population data used to adjust case and death totals came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey and are five-year estimates. Unemployment data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is not seasonally adjusted.

These are all the counties in Georgia where COVID-19 is slowing (and where it’s still getting worse).

Rank in MSA County Population New daily cases per 100,000, week ending January 6 New daily cases per 100,000, week ending December 30 Cumulative cases per 100,000 Cumulative deaths per 100,000
1 Douglas County 143,316 200.7 81.6 19,495.4 219.1
2 Henry County 225,356 195.0 78.9 20,844.4 238.7
3 Fulton County 1,036,200 177.1 90.0 16,271.2 182.9
4 Rockdale County 89,717 174.8 91.2 16,248.9 294.3
5 Coweta County 143,260 167.2 77.3 18,116.7 281.3
6 Cobb County 751,218 164.9 78.1 17,979.5 195.7
7 Paulding County 159,825 163.0 85.2 19,239.8 221.5
8 Clayton County 283,538 162.7 76.8 17,202.6 281.8
9 Newton County 108,079 158.6 83.6 18,444.8 345.1
10 Spalding County 65,306 154.0 57.9 19,275.4 522.2
11 Fayette County 112,303 144.9 68.6 15,001.4 226.2
12 DeKalb County 749,323 131.0 62.2 14,936.1 188.6
13 Walton County 91,442 127.4 41.7 19,233.0 397.0
14 Butts County 24,090 124.2 45.5 22,262.3 518.9
15 Gwinnett County 915,046 123.7 51.4 17,424.7 172.8
16 Bartow County 104,919 121.9 53.3 22,448.7 358.4
17 Forsyth County 228,383 121.3 50.8 17,794.7 134.4
18 Cherokee County 247,515 112.6 46.8 20,280.4 200.8
19 Meriwether County 21,106 112.1 37.9 16,521.4 573.3
20 Lamar County 18,672 111.6 30.7 20,924.4 540.9
21 Barrow County 78,991 111.0 42.3 21,560.7 262.1
22 Carroll County 117,183 106.1 46.8 16,267.7 317.5
23 Dawson County 24,536 103.8 52.1 21,755.8 326.1
24 Jasper County 13,916 98.0 28.2 17,663.1 431.2
25 Morgan County 18,507 95.3 32.1 19,722.3 281.0
26 Pickens County 31,387 87.1 41.2 19,944.6 401.4
27 Pike County 18,327 85.7 40.0 23,157.1 403.8
28 Heard County 11,736 79.3 30.8 14,297.9 366.4
29 Haralson County 29,227 65.6 31.1 14,541.3 451.6