Deaths in Georgia

COVID-19 has taken a toll on Georgians, and sadly, has cost over 2000 people their lives in the state. As the total number of deaths increases each day, many have had questions about who is dying and when they died.

When you see the total of deaths increase each day, it’s important to remember that those deaths occurred over several different days, not just the previous day. The reason for this is that it takes time to determine cause of death and report deaths to DPH. The numbers aren’t reported real-time and are often fluctuate, where they are lower on weekends, and higher during the week (especially on Tuesdays and Fridays).

Deaths by Date of Death

The Georgia DPH graph deaths by Date of Death on the DPH COVID Status Report, which allows us to see when deaths actually occurred, not just when they were reported.

I track these changes daily, and report on how many deaths are reported that occurred in recent weeks versus further in the past. In mid-June, DPH implemented a death certificate matching process that increased reported deaths substantially while current deaths were very low. This caused a temporary spike in death reporting as they entered a lot of older deaths.

From AJC article, “Coronavirus cases on the rise again in Georgia (June 16, 2020)

After that, deaths were being entered very quickly, often within a week of the person’s death. I originally thought this meant the new process made them more efficient at entering deaths. However, I now believe this was related to the fact that fewer deaths were occurring at this time, and that’s what was making the process more efficient. As deaths increased, especially in the big metro counties, death reporting started to really lag again.

Below, you will see two graphs. The first graph shows the percentage of deaths reported each week that are added to graph within the 3 weeks prior to the week ending date. The second graph shows how many of the deaths were reported within the first and second weeks after the person died, and how many were reported after more than 14 days.

Here’s how the 7-day moving average line on the GA DPH Deaths Over Time graph (by date of death) has looked each week over the past few months, so you can see how this graph changes over time.

I’ve also seen that in many Georgia counties, deaths declined steadily since Spring until July, when they experienced a second smaller round of deaths. Other counties that were mostly spared from the initial spikes in cases back in the Spring experienced later outbreaks of cases and now deaths. These smaller, later death peaks in other areas of the state are now combined with increases in deaths in Metro Atlanta and elsewhere in the state all at the same time for an especially bad few weeks in late July and early August. See the graph below showing counties grouped by when deaths first peaked.

The counties hit in the spring had a second smaller surge (especially in metro Atlanta), at the same time as the counties spared in the spring had their first surge. In some counties, deaths peaked a little earlier in June/July and some a little later. Other, mostly rural, counties have seen very few deaths from COVID so far, but some are possible emerging hot spots. Right now, the August counties are having sharp increases in deaths, but it appears this will taper off soon, and possibly be replaced by some other counties that were hit later.

Deaths by Age

The DPH site allows you to access the raw data of individual deaths with age, sex, county, and existence of an underlying condition. It can be viewed on the Deaths in Georgia tab on the DPH COVID Status Report. If you are really interested in this data, I recommend downloading the CSV file at the top of the page.

Age Stratification of Cases/Hospitalizations/Deaths

Each Friday, I track the number of cases/hospitalizations/deaths and the CFR over time in a Google sheet here.

Analyzing these deaths has consistently shown that COVID fatalities have disproportionately affected older populations. When I last analyzed the age spread of deaths in Georgia, here are some of the statistics I found:

  • 76% of the deaths in Georgia are people 65 or older, while only 14% of Georgia’s population is 65 or older.
  • ~40% of deaths in Georgia are people age 80 and older.
  • About half of the COVID deaths in Georgia come from nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
  • The average age of COVID fatalities in Georgia is ~74.
  • In Georgia, more people 90 and older have died than 55 and under.

On the other hand, COVID is rarely fatal to younger populations.

  • Only about 10% of deaths are those are under 55, and less than 3% are under age 40.
  • 13 deaths have occurred in Georgia under 25 years of age, and over half had underlying conditions. That’s 0.3% of all COVID deaths in Georgia. The risk is extremely low for this age group.
  • The youngest patient to die with COVID-19 in Georgia was a 7-year-old boy from Chatham County. He had a febrile seizure in the bath tub and drowned. Georgia has seen two other pediatric deaths, a 15-year-old boy in Gwinnett County and a 17-year-old boy in Fulton County, both with comorbidities, but no other details about these deaths are known.