NEW REPORT: Kemp Mismanaged Pandemic Response

June 17, 2022

New Report Shows Georgia Ranked Among Nation’s Worst in Response to Pandemic

A new report shows Georgia ranked 47th in the nation in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The report, released yesterday by the Commonwealth Fund, revealed that Georgia fared worse than almost all other states, with higher-than-average deaths and hospitalizations. Public health experts noted while discussing the report’s findings that Kemp’s “lack of investment in public health infrastructure…and failure to implement common sense policies like Medicaid expansion” put the state at a “disadvantage from the beginning of the pandemic.”

Gov. Brian Kemp, who reopened Georgia against the advising of doctors and nurses, has boasted regularly and run campaign ads touting his response to the pandemic. But the new data reveals that the Peach State fared much worse than others, with higher rates of deaths and far higher rates of hospitalization for COVID-19 than the U.S. average.

Read more on the results of the new report:

AJC: Georgia’s pandemic response ranked among the nation’s worst

  • Georgia’s response to the pandemic ranked among the nation’s worst, according to an analysis released Thursday by the New-York-based Commonwealth Fund.
  • Within that, the state ranked 47th for its response to the pandemic, which measured rates of death and COVID-19 hospitalization as well as staffing shortages and overflow in hospital intensive care units.
  • The message, said the authors: The pandemic has been bad, but being ill prepared made it worse for citizens.
  • As of Wednesday, 31,952 confirmed COVID-19 patients have died in Georgia, in addition to 6,408 probable COVID-19 patients, according to the state Department of Public Health.
  • Georgia ranked 48th in the nation for the rate of adults fully vaccinated and boosted, and 47th for its high number of hospital admissions of confirmed COVID cases per 100,000 population.
  • Those higher rates of severe COVID cases led to poorer performance by Georgia’s hospitals. The state ranked 48th for hospital staffing shortages.
  • Harry Heiman, a clinical associate professor of public health policy at Georgia State University, said the poor outcome for Georgia was predictable.
  • “Our lack of investment in public health infrastructure and workforce and failure to implement common sense policies like Medicaid expansion…put us at a disadvantage from the beginning of the pandemic,” Heiman said.
  • Georgia is one of nine states that have not expanded Medicaid insurance to all its poor. Heiman and others argue that leaves hundreds of thousands of Georgians without existing connections to primary care and health providers able to give vaccinations when the pandemic emergency hit.
  • Most of the lowest-ranking states also did not expand Medicaid. An exception is Kentucky, which ranked low in spite of its expansion of Medicaid to all very poor Kentuckians.

Capitol Beat: Georgia ranked 47th in managing COVID, according to new rep

  • Georgia ranked 47th in the nation in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new state scorecard released by the Commonwealth Fund Thursday.
  • According to the new scorecard, only a quarter of adults in Georgia were fully vaccinated and boosted against COVID by the end of March 2022, while the national average was 37%.
  • Georgia also saw higher rates of “excess deaths” than the U.S. average from February 2020 to April of this year, with 411 excess deaths per 100,000 people, compared to a national average of 345 per 100,000.
  • “The death toll from COVID is high and extends beyond deaths directly attributed to the virus,” the report contends. “Because the pandemic disrupted their ability to get timely care … many more people died sooner than they otherwise would have.”
  • Those effects were particularly pronounced for Black, indigenous and Latinx people in the first year of the pandemic, Jesse Baumgartner, a research associate at the Commonwealth Fund, said during a press conference.
  • Georgia had far higher rates of hospitalization for COVID than the national average, with 1,976 confirmed COVID case admissions per 100,000 people from August 2020 to March 2022.  In the same period, the national average was 1,443 per 100,000.
  • The report card also looked at how many days hospital intensive care units were at or above 80% capacity between August 2020 and March 2022. Georgia ICUs were at least 80% full for 375 days in that period, compared to the national average of just 112 days in the same timeframe.
  • “States that entered the pandemic with stronger health systems fared better,” said Dr. David Blumenthal, president of the Commonwealth Fund. “States need to invest in their health-care infrastructure. Having a strong health-care system is the best preparation for any public health crisis.”
  • Democratic Party of Georgia spokesman Max Flugrath said Kemp should have responded to the pandemic by expanding the state’s Medicaid program.
  • “During the uncertainty of a global pandemic, Democrats would have done what Brian Kemp has repeatedly refused to do – expand access to health care for vulnerable Georgians,” Flugrath said. “By expanding Medicaid, Georgia could provide health-care coverage for over 500,000 people, create over 64,000 jobs, and send crucial support to rural hospitals, two of which closed during the pandemic.”


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