A consistent pattern is emerging with ethnic and racial minority populations representing a disproportionate share of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, compared to white Americans, regardless of the geographical region examined. Data in Georgia mirrors this national trend.
COVID-19 in Georgia
While cities across Georgia have the highest total number of COVID-19 cases, rural counties have higher rates when accounting for population size.
Using data from the first three months of the pandemic, 30% of total COVID-19 infections in Georgia and 48% of COVID-19–related deaths in the state occurred among African Americans. African Americans make up approximately 32% of Georgia’s population, so while the number of African American infections is in line with their populational representation, they experience a disproportionate share of the COVID-19 mortalities.
At the local level, counties with a higher percentage of people of color (nonwhites) have been disproportionately affected, particularly in southwest Georgia.
Systemic Socioeconomic Disparities Impact COVID-19 Outcomes
The COVID-19 pandemic illustrates how high-risk essential jobs, lack of health insurance, systemic barriers, and poverty can contribute to the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on ethnic and racial minority populations. By shining a light on COVID-19 disparities and their underlying causes, the pandemic provides an opportunity to address health equity.
Policy Approaches to Address COVID-19 Inequities
Health equity is achieved when everyone has the opportunity for their best health. Achieving health equity, eliminating disparities, and improving the health and well-being of all U.S. population groups are major public health strategic goals for the country and the state.
There are concrete steps that policymakers can take to (1) address long-standing health disparities resulting from systemic barriers and (2) prevent the spread of COVID-19, particularly amongst vulnerable populations at greatest risk.
Read the full brief Health Equity and Covid-19: Georgia Mirrors National Disparities to explore specific, curated resources that provide detailed strategies for policymakers, employers, health providers, and community members.
GHPC will continue to examine COVID-19-related disparities in the state. This includes rural versus urban differences, as well as differences within populations within a single county. GHPC is examining the social, systemic, and structural challenges preventing individuals and communities from achieving their best health and supporting conversations. There is ongoing research and evaluation of policy and programs to address systemic inequities and the resulting disparities in health outcomes. This research, translation, and facilitation supports real-time understanding of the root causes of inequities and enables consensus building around sustainable, systemic solutions.