RIVERDALE, Ga. (CBS46) — Clayton County has the highest percentage of Black residents in Georgia, according to the U.S. Census, and the lowest vaccination rates and the highest COVID-19 deaths per 100,000, among metro Atlanta counties. That’s according to data from the Georgia Department of Public Health, analyzed by CBS46 Investigates. We compared Clayton County to Fulton, Cobb, DeKalb, and Gwinnett counties.
Take a closer look at your own county below and see where it ranks in terms of COVID-19 deaths, death rates per 100K, and vaccination rates - as of January 11.
As his family and friends began getting the COVID-19 vaccine, Billy Robinson was still worried about potential side effects down the road.
“Why did you wait so long to get the vaccine?” CBS46 investigative reporter, Rachel Polansky, asked.
“Good question. I wanted to know more about it,” Billy Robinson of Riverdale said. “I thought it was going away but it don’t seem like it’s going away.”
Vaccine hesitancy among minorities often stems from a long-standing mistrust of the healthcare system.
In the majority-Black Clayton County, only 49% of people have received a single dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to data from the Georgia Department of Public Health analyzed by CBS46 Investigates on January 11.
That’s 13 to 15 percentage points lower than other metro Atlanta counties. In Cobb and Fulton Counties, 64% of people have received a single dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. In DeKalb and Gwinnett Counties, 62-percent have received a single dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
For Billy Robinson and others, it wasn’t until there was a vaccination drive at their own church in Riverdale that they decided to roll up their sleeves.
“I come here all the time,” Robinson said.
“I needed somewhere where I felt good and safe getting it done,” Pamela Allen, of Riverdale, added.
Data obtained by CBS46 investigates also revealed that Clayton County has a much higher COVID-19 death rate per 100K than other metro Atlanta counties.
Clayton County has 245.7 COVID-19 deaths per 100K while Cobb County has 171.1; Fulton County has 157.9; DeKalb County has 160.9; and Gwinnett County has 152.5 COVID-19 deaths per 100K.
Part of what convinced some community members to show up to the vaccination drive was an incentive offered by the organizers: a big box of food.
Georgia Rep. Yasmin Neal and Clayton County Commissioner Gail Hambrick organized the four-hour vaccination drive that was held at Fountain of Faith Missionary Baptist Church in Riverdale.
At the end of the drive, 104 doses were administered. While the majority of them were boosters, roughly 30 of them were first doses.
“The more we have these types of events, where they’re led by black and brown officials, I think it can be a benefit to our community and I think it can start to encourage minorities to trust the healthcare system more. Especially when they see minorities who are actually giving the vaccine as well - When they see people that look like them either administering it or holding events, I think it continues to bridge the gap between healthcare and the brown and black communities,” Representative Yasmin Neal of District 74 said. “Having this event in Riverdale, which is majority minority - at a church, which is majority minority - is really beneficial to help promote the fact that hey, this is safe. This is another mechanism to combat this disease. And, for citizens to be able to see someone like myself, an African American female - like commissioner Gail Hambrick, an African American female - I think it’s impactful.”
As far as why we’re seeing what we’re seeing in Clayton County, Vincent Parris, a public information officer for the Clayton County Health District tells CBS46 Investigates: “In Georgia, socioeconomic status, and race have been found to be strongly associated with COVID-19 mortality. Despite being one of the smallest counties in metro Atlanta, Clayton County has one of the highest poverty rates in the area. Research shows that counties with lower socioeconomic status have higher COVID-19 death rates per 100,000 persons. In addition to this, only about 19.5% of individuals in the county have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Lower education levels and greater percentages of African American residents are strongly associated with higher rates of both COVID-19 cases and fatalities. This same correlation could be made in Clayton County as it is predominantly African American.”
As far as vaccination rates in Clayton County, Parris said, “Weekly summary reports done at the agency also show that about 90% of deaths in Clayton County occur among unvaccinated individuals. This is one of the main reasons why efforts are being made in different areas of the community to encourage more individuals to get vaccinated.”
Download the full list of COVID deaths by Georgia county below:
For the latest information, check https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report and https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/3d8eea39f5c1443db1743a4cb8948a9c