Coronavirus

Emory Epidemiologist: Pandemic Exposes ‘Generational Inequities’ Across Rural Georgia

Every year, tens of thousands of people travel to Georgia to work in farm fields and in packing plants. Many live in close quarters and get to work in crowded buses. That has raised concerns about the coronavirus spreading among the workers.
Every year, tens of thousands of people travel to Georgia to work in farm fields and in packing plants. Many live in close quarters and get to work in crowded buses. That has raised concerns about the coronavirus spreading among the workers.
Credit David Goldman / Associated PRess file

Georgia health officials reported a record-breaking number of new COVID-19 cases over the weekend. As the virus spreads across the state, public health experts say rural areas are being hit especially hard.

In the beginning of this outbreak, southwest Dougherty County was identified as a hot spot. Now, there are also reports of high numbers in Glynn County in coastal Georgia, as well as pockets of northern Georgia.

Emory epidemiologist Jodie Guest told “Closer Look” host Rose Scott on Tuesday’s program that the pandemic is impacting different demographics statewide.

“We’ve got lots of different hot spots across the state of Georgia, unfortunately, and they all have slightly different drivers,” Guest said.

Guest, who serves as vice chair of the department of epidemiology at Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, has been leading outreach efforts in Hall County. There, the Latino community and poultry workers have been disproportionately affected. 

Meanwhile, in middle and south Georgia, Guest added predominately Black communities make up a high number of reported cases. These communities, Guest noted, already faced challenges.

Still, Guest remains hopeful that outreach efforts help address the problem.

“What we really see across the state of Georgia is that COVID-19 has broke open all of the generational inequities that we have in our state and is really making us talk about them, which may be the only shining spot in all of this is that for once we might be getting the attention of people who can really make changes,” she said.

Guest:

To listen to the full conversation, click on the audio player above.

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