Hancock County’s COVID-19 death rate among state’s highest

The Hancock County Health Department is hoping to hire more staff to help mitigate COVID.

SPARTA, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – According to the Georgia Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 Status Report for February 1, one in every 104 people in Hancock County have died from COVID-19.

The county of 8,193 residents has recorded 79 COVID-19 related deaths.

Michael Hokanson with the North Central Health District says this rate is alarming.

“It is on the higher end for the state,” he said. “And at multiple times during the pandemic, its death rate was the highest in the state.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, the county had two nursing home outbreaks that took nearly 30 lives. With a predominantly older population, Sparta Mayor Allen Haywood believes higher numbers were bound to happen.

“About 65% of the population is 55 and older,” he said. “And when you’ve got age involved and you’ve got preexisting conditions, you’re going to have some problems.”

Mayor Haywood says there have been several community outreach efforts to get people vaccinated. However, because of the size of the county, he says it has been difficult.

The closest hospital to Hancock County is Atrium Health Navicent Baldwin. The hospital offers frequent testing and encourages Hancock County residents to get tested if they need it.

“We have a drive-in facility and you don’t need an appointment, and you can come in and we have plenty of availability and opportunity for testing,” Dr. Sandy Duke, the Chief Medical Officer for Navicent, said.

The Hancock County Health Department serves as a mainline to healthcare for many residents, but a limited number of resources and staffing issues has made getting people the healthcare they need difficult.

“Staffing is an issue,” Hokanson said. “Within that program, we just lost a few staff members, and that has impacted our efforts in that area.”

Even with COVID case numbers declining, the North Central Health District still encourages people to seek testing if they feel ill.

If you are a healthcare professional and are interested in serving the residents of Hancock County, you can visit northcentralhealthdistrict.org /jobs.

Categories: COVID-19, Featured, Hancock County, Health, Local News

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