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Thu Apr 2, 2020, 11:02 AM

The Coronavirus's Unique Threat to the South

here is what I have to say about these two maps: the first one lacks a ton of context that the second one includes. if you're using the first map to make sweeping judgments about the South, please rethink. I'll explain.

We're working hard to bring you the most important stories about how COVID-19 is impacting the South. Find all of our coverage here:


The Coronavirus’s Unique Threat to the South

More young people in the South seem to be dying from COVID-19. Why?

5:00 AM ET


Editor's Note: The Atlantic is making vital coverage of the coronavirus available to all readers. Find the collection here.

In a matter of weeks, the coronavirus has gone from a novel, distant threat to an enemy besieging cities and towns across the world. The burden of COVID-19 and the economic upheaval wrought by the measures to contain it feel epochal. Humanity now has a common foe, and we will grow increasingly familiar with its face.

Yet plenty of this virus’s aspects remain unknown. The developing wisdom—earned the hard way in Wuhan, Washington, and Italy—has been that older people and sicker people are substantially more likely to suffer severe illness or die from COVID-19 than their younger, healthier counterparts. Older people are much more likely than young people to have lung disease, kidney disease, hypertension, or heart disease, and those conditions are more likely to transform a coronavirus infection into something nastier. But what happens when these assumptions don’t hold up, and the young people battling the pandemic share the same risks?

The world is about to find out. So far, about one in 10 deaths in the United States from COVID-19 has occurred in the four-state arc of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, according to data assembled by the COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer collaboration incubated at The Atlantic. New Orleans is on pace to become the next global epicenter of the pandemic. The virus has a foothold in southwestern Georgia, and threatens to overwhelm hospitals in the Atlanta metropolitan area. The coronavirus is advancing quickly across the American South. And in the American South, significant numbers of younger people are battling health conditions that make coronavirus outbreaks more perilous.

The numbers emerging seem to indicate that more young people in the South are dying from COVID-19. Although the majority of coronavirus-related deaths in Louisiana are still among victims over 70 years old, 43 percent of all reported deaths have been people under 70. In Georgia, people under 70 make up 49 percent of reported deaths. By comparison, people under 70 account for only 20 percent of deaths in Colorado. “Under 70” is a broad category, not really useful for understanding what’s going on. But digging deeper reveals more concerning numbers. In Louisiana, people from the ages of 40 to 59 account for 22 percent of all deaths. The same age range in Georgia accounts for 17 percent of all deaths. By comparison, the same age group accounts for only about 10 percent of all deaths in Colorado, and 6 percent of all deaths in Washington State. These statistics suggest that middle-aged and working-age adults in the two southern states are at much greater risk than their counterparts elsewhere; for some reason, they are more likely to die from COVID-19.

All data in this stage of the pandemic are provisional and incomplete, and all conclusions are subject to change. But a review of the international evidence shows that, as far as we know, the outbreaks currently expanding in the American South are unique—and mainly because of how many people in their working prime are dying. Spain’s official accounting of the pandemic last week showed that deaths among people under 70 years old make up only about 12 percent of total deaths in the country. Case-fatality rates around the world are notoriously tricky because they are based in part on the extent of testing, but a recent study of the outbreak in Wuhan, China, found a case-fatality rate of 0.5 percent among adults from the ages of 30 to 59. The current estimate of fatality rates in the same age range in Louisiana is about four times that.


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Reply The Coronavirus's Unique Threat to the South (Original post)
mahatmakanejeeves Apr 2 OP
hunter Apr 2 #1
Aristus Apr 2 #2
lagomorph777 Apr 2 #4
Aristus Apr 2 #5
Igel Apr 2 #3

Response to hunter (Reply #1)

Thu Apr 2, 2020, 01:16 PM

2. Kentucky and West Virginia, I believe.

But I'm surprised that Virginia and North Carolina don't have higher stats on tobacco use. They're the heart of tobacco country.

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Response to Aristus (Reply #2)

Thu Apr 2, 2020, 01:59 PM

4. Virginians grow it. We're not stupid enough to USE it.

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Response to lagomorph777 (Reply #4)

Thu Apr 2, 2020, 08:51 PM

5. HA!

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Response to hunter (Reply #1)

Thu Apr 2, 2020, 01:27 PM

3. So-so.

Appalachia, for sure. But then it stretches from LA up into NC.

Details matter--in LA it's really NOLA that's slammed.

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