Forbes: Low-vaccination counties endured more intense surge of COVID-19

UC maps show higher rates of infection in counties with low vaccination rates

Forbes reported on a new study by the University of Cincinnati that examined how the third wave of COVID-19 swept across the United States in the summer of 2021.

UC's Health Geography and Disease Modeling Lab found that the delta variant of COVID-19 spread far faster in rural counties where vaccination rates are lagging.

The study, a collaboration with Augusta University, was published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

“Our study underscores the importance of vaccination to mitigate the rate of spread of COVID-19 in the United States,” said study co-author Phillip Coule, MD, associate dean at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.

Now UC epidemiologist Diego Cuadros, an assistant professor of geography in UC's College of Arts and Sciences, is looking at the spread of omicron, the fourth wave, that is just beginning to ebb across the United States.

Preliminary data, which were not part of the published study, suggest this variant, known for being highly contagious, spread more quickly in congested urban areas. But since far more people per capita in these counties were vaccinated, fewer people in urban areas have died compared to rural areas where vaccinations are lagging.

Despite high numbers of vaccinated people contracting omicron, they are significantly less likely to do so than unvaccinated people and are much less likely to get seriously ill and die from the disease, Forbes reported.

Read the Forbes story.

Four side-by-side maps of the continental United States show the spatial change in vaccination rates and new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people at the county level in two-week intervals in July and August of 2021. The maps show how vaccination rates lagged in rural America while COVID-19 infections soared in many of these same places.

Bivariate maps illustrate the spatial change in the association between vaccination rates and new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people at the county level in two-week intervals in July and August of 2021. Scatterplots indicate the association between these variables in each county. Purple indicates high rates of vaccination while green indicates high rates of COVID-19 per 100,000 people. (Colorado, Georgia, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia were omitted because vaccination data was incomplete.)