As the spread of COVID-19 increases and begins to move like wildfire through some parts of the nation, two metrics are used to show how hard places are hit. One is the number of cases per 1,000 people, and the other is deaths per thousand people. These figures have been particularly high in sections of Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Tennessee.
The hardest hit of all counties in America is Hancock County, Georgia, where deaths per 1,000 people reached 5.16 on October 13, an extraordinarily high number.
Hancock County sits east of Atlanta. Its average population over the past five years was 8,535. That population is made up mostly of Black Americans. In the county seat, Sparta, 84% of the population was Black, according to the 2010 Census, while 15% of the population was white.
A look at the state of Georgia shows that both cases and deaths have been higher over the past seven days.
Based on the deaths per 1,000 measurement, Hancock County is followed by two counties in Virginia. Deaths per 1,000 people in Emporia County were 4.83 on October 13. The county has a five-year average population of 5,381. It is in the southern part of the state, near the North Carolina border. Galax County, also near the border, ranks third in deaths per 1,000 at 4.52. Its population is 6,638.
Next on the list based on deaths per 1,000 is Randolph County, Georgia, near the Alabama border. Its count was 4.09 on the 13th. It has a five-year average population of 7,087. Just behind it, East Feliciana, Louisiana, has a count of 3.85 and a population of 19,499.
The second measure of how hard a county has been hit is cases per 1,000. On the 13th, this figure was highest in Trousdale, Tennessee, where the number was 179.05. It has a five-year average population of 9,573. Chattahoochee, Georgia, followed with a count of 158.45 and a population of 10,767.
Next on this list is Lafayette, Florida, at 143.07 (population 8,744); Lake, Tennessee, at 126.36 (population 7,526); and Lee, Arkansas, at 116.62 (population 9,398).
Notably, every county by each measure is in the South.
National Public Radio’s map of states that are hardest hit includes Tennessee and Arkansas. Its list of states hit the second hardest includes Georgia, Florida and Virginia.
The virus also has begun to spread aggressively north into Idaho, Montana, North and South Dakota, and Wyoming.
However, a look across the country shows that, based on deaths per thousand, troubled Hancock County is at the top of the list by far.