Georgia Southern student research shows Georgia doing well in stopping spread of COVID-19 but is still home to 4 of the nation’s 10 highest counties for mortality rateJune 16, 20202 min read
Graduate students in the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health at Georgia Southern University analyzed mortality data to reveal that a county in southwest Georgia is dealing with deaths from COVID-19 at a rate higher than most other counties in the country.
The students found that the mortality rate of 305 per 100,000 residents (as of May 28, 2020) for Terrell County in southwestern Georgia, is 50% higher than that of New York state’s Nassau County, the documented highest rate in New York. The three other Georgia counties that are highest in terms of mortality rate are Hancock, Early and Dougherty counties.
Three out of these four are in southwest Georgia, around the Albany area. That accounts for almost half of the 10 counties in the United States with the highest mortality rate, which is defined as a measure of the frequency of occurrence of death among a defined population.
However, it’s interesting to note that none of Georgia counties reached the top 20 in terms of incidence and the death numbers per 100 confirmed Covid-19 cases, said professor Dr. Jian Zhang, a veteran medical epidemiologist.
“Georgia is doing pretty well to stop the spread of the virus, and hospitals in Georgia are doing well to save hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The high mortality rate, in this case, may be deeply rooted in the historical burden of poverty in Georgia,” Zhang said.
The findings are part of a service-learning project Zhang led. A six-student group formed the surveillance team that began running a real-time COVID-19 numbers in his Public Health Surveillance class.
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Dr. Jian Zhang has worked with the Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization prior to moving to the United States.
Jian Zhang Associate Professor, Biostatistics
Jian Zhang's research focuses on chronic disease from both public health and preventative medicine perspectives.