Community Characteristics and COVID-19 Outcomes: A Study of 159 Counties in Georgia, United States

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Journal of Public Health Management and Practice






Background: The COVID-19 pandemic affects population groups differently, worsening existing social, economic, and health inequities.

Purpose: This study examined 159 counties within Georgia to identify community characteristics associated with county-level COVID-19 case, hospitalization, and death rates.

Methods: Data from the 2020 County Health Rankings, the 2010 US Census, and the Georgia Department of Public Health COVID-19 Daily Status Report were linked using county Federal Information Processing Standard codes and evaluated through multivariable linear regression models.

Results: The percentages of children in poverty, severe housing problems, and people not proficient in the English language were significant predictors associated with increases in case, hospitalization, and death rates. Diabetic prevalence was significantly associated with increases in the hospitalization and death rates; in contrast, the percentages of people with excessive drinking and female were inversely associated with hospitalization and death rates. Other independent variables showing an association with death rate included the percentages of people reporting fair or poor health and American Indian/Alaska Native.

Implication: Local authorities' proper allocation of resources and plans to address community social determinants of health are essential to mitigate disease transmission and reduce hospitalizations and deaths associated with COVID-19, especially among vulnerable groups.