HIAWASSEE, Ga. — Because the highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths are found in the metro Atlanta area, you may assume that’s the most heavily impacted area. Small, rural areas, however, are actually being hit much harder.
Towns County is on Georgia’s border with North Carolina. The Georgia Department of Public Health says that 1 in about every 200 people has died from the virus.
Towns County is home to one of the state’s highest COVID-19 rates.
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“Unfortunately we had a big breakout in our choir,” Judy Crowder told Channel 2′s Justin Wilfon. “we had like 26 people that had it.”
Crowder was one of them, and she feared that the virus might take her life. When she caught the virus, she was not vaccinated.
“He kept telling me, ‘We’re under the gun here, we’re running out of time.’ And I’m thinking, ‘What do you mean we’re running out of time?’ because those words were scaring me,” she said.
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Dr. Samuel Church says that many people in Towns County and other rural parts of the state remain hesitant to get the vaccine. He told Wilfon that he has spent most of the year trying to change that.
“People have closely held beliefs, and I think that needs to be respected. And I think it’s important to find out where that’s coming from,” he said. “I’ve been concentrating my efforts on educating rather than mandating. And just out of our clinic we’ve given over 4,000 vaccines.”
According to the state, the vaccination rate in Towns County is on par with the rest of the state. 54% of Towns County residents have received at least one dose.
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The local health department in Towns County says that the north Georgia area attracts retirees, meaning a large number of people fall into the most vulnerable age group, making them more likely to die from COVID-19.
In recent weeks, cases in Towns County have been declining and the community hopes that trend will continue on.
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