UGA researcher maps coronavirus spread in Georgia

Researchers at the University of Georgia say it’s not just metro Atlanta that is seeing high numbers of COVID-19 cases.

If you adjust for population, many rural areas of the state see even higher cases of the virus.

Janani Thapa, applied economics professor at UGA, told Channel 2's Dave Huddleston that there are several health factors that play a much larger role in who may contract the virus.

“Age, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, poverty and lack of medical care all play a role in tracking the virus,” Thapa said.

Thapa also said in many rural communities, there is only one hospital for the county or several counties, especially in communities in southwest and central Georgia.

Thapa said based on her research, these were the most at-risk counties for the month of April: Hall, Gwinnett, DeKalb, Fulton, Cobb and Dougherty.

Her research shows that the case incidence is highest in counties in southwest Georgia.

The most vulnerable counties are Taliaferro, Wilkinson, Hancock, Clay, Early, Crisp, Suter, Burke, Peach, Jefferson, Twigs, Dougherty, Dooly, Clinch, Turner, Warren, Laurens, Seminole and Bibb.

Of those counties, the incidence in April was highest in Clay, Early, Turner, Crisp, Dooly, Sumter and Dougherty.

Some of the counties with more than 100 cases per 10,000 population and are vulnerable are Hancock, Burke, Wilkinson and Seminole.

Thapa said she hopes local governments can use her research to fight for federal dollars and help their citizens.

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