Healthcare Economy

COVID-19: This County Is America's Worst Hotspot

The numbers of confirmed and fatal COVID-19 cases, as well as hospitalizations, continue to drop almost everywhere in America. Still, there are 26,308,290 confirmed cases, about a quarter of the world’s total, and 443,817 fatalities, about a fifth of the world’s number. Experts warn there may be 600,000 American coronavirus deaths by the summer. Moreover, there have been mutations that have entered the United States recently. The most troubling are those from the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa. Some of these spread faster than the strain that caused the most infections last year. Some may be more deadly or vaccine-resistant. It is too early to tell.

The race is on to vaccinate over 200 million Americans. The effort has progressed slowly because of a lack of doses and logistics to ship vaccines that have been described as subpar.

Among the measures used frequently to track and measure the disease are numbers of fatal and confirmed cases per 100,000. This allows the disease to be compared from place to place regardless of population size.

The New York Times has set a measure to determine the highest number of recent confirmed cases. It is based on a seven-day average of new cases per 100,000 sorted by county. The county with the highest number is Chattahoochee County, Georgia, with a figure of 254. Just behind it are several Texas counties with numbers of over 175: Presidio (224), Dimmit (223), Upton (203), Hartley (194), Maverick (193), Zavala (186) and Dallam (178).

Chattahoochee County had a population of 10,907 when census data was released for July 1, 2019. Fifty-seven percent of the county residents are white. Another 19% are Black, and nearly 17% are Hispanic. The median value of an owner-occupied home in the county is $71,300, less than a third of the national average. The median household income is $47,096, well below the national number. The poverty rate is 18.5%, which approaches double the national figure.

The county is sparsely populated, based on its size of 248 square miles. It sits just southeast of Columbus, Georgia, near the border with Alabama.

Chattahoochee County fits the demographic profile of areas where the disease has hit the hardest. It has a large number of Black and Hispanic residents, and most of the population is poor.

Within the next several weeks, the most disastrous attack of the disease in Chattahoochee County will start to taper off as it has everywhere else. That will not lessen what is clearly a brutal blow.