Special Report

This Is the County In the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA Metro Area Where COVID-19 Is Growing the Fastest

After adding over 637,000 new cases throughout the last week, the U.S. now has more than 44.3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19. There have been more than 710,000 COVID-19-related deaths — the highest death toll of any country.

New cases continue to rise, albeit at a slowing rate. In the past week, there were an average of 28.1 daily new coronavirus cases per 100,000 Americans — a decrease from the week prior, when there were an average of 33.4 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.

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 22.9 new coronavirus cases every day per 100,000 Atlanta residents, less than the national figure. The metro area’s average daily case growth in the most recent week is a decrease from the week prior, when there was an average of 30.6 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 Butts County. There were an average of 41.8 new cases per day per 100,000 residents in Butts 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 Heard County, for example, there were an average of 9.0 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 Butts County.

While Butts County is driving the growth of COVID-19 in the Atlanta area, it does not have the highest incidence of cases overall. As of October 14, there were a total of 19,115.8 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents in Butts County, the third most of the 29 counties in the metro area. For comparison, the U.S. has so far reported 13,646.9 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 Butts County, unemployment peaked at 11.4% in April 2020. As of June 2021, the county’s unemployment rate was 4.0%.

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 October 14. 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 October 14 New daily cases per 100,000, week ending October 7 Cumulative cases per 100,000 Cumulative deaths per 100,000
1 Butts County 24,090 41.8 47.9 19,115.8 440.0
2 Pickens County 31,387 34.5 56.9 17,395.7 347.3
3 Gwinnett County 915,046 31.3 38.8 14,321.6 151.5
4 Barrow County 78,991 29.8 49.1 18,260.3 236.7
5 Dawson County 24,536 28.9 33.9 18,707.2 264.9
6 Bartow County 104,919 28.6 41.4 19,189.1 309.8
7 Morgan County 18,507 27.7 37.7 16,664.0 216.1
8 Newton County 108,079 26.2 34.0 14,824.3 299.8
9 Pike County 18,327 25.8 38.9 20,505.3 354.7
10 Henry County 225,356 25.5 36.8 16,620.4 207.2
11 DeKalb County 749,323 25.0 30.4 12,004.3 166.8
12 Douglas County 143,316 24.2 29.1 15,332.6 192.6
13 Rockdale County 89,717 23.1 30.6 12,503.8 250.8
14 Forsyth County 228,383 22.2 33.1 14,509.8 110.8
15 Paulding County 159,825 22.1 27.6 15,477.6 191.5
16 Spalding County 65,306 21.8 34.0 15,554.5 418.0
17 Cobb County 751,218 20.8 26.1 14,319.7 177.3
18 Cherokee County 247,515 20.1 30.5 17,304.0 173.3
19 Clayton County 283,538 20.1 34.3 13,624.3 239.1
20 Lamar County 18,672 19.2 41.8 18,043.1 449.9
21 Walton County 91,442 19.1 35.8 16,153.4 357.6
22 Coweta County 143,260 18.4 28.3 14,299.9 226.2
23 Fulton County 1,036,200 17.7 22.7 12,562.0 162.3
24 Haralson County 29,227 17.4 27.1 12,799.8 372.9
25 Meriwether County 21,106 16.9 25.4 13,929.7 492.8
26 Jasper County 13,916 14.8 25.7 15,061.8 409.6
27 Fayette County 112,303 14.3 18.2 11,520.6 194.1
28 Carroll County 117,183 13.5 21.6 13,827.9 250.0
29 Heard County 11,736 9.0 19.3 12,423.3 272.7