The Investigators: Small communities near Shelby County have higher incidence of COVID-19

There is a common factor driving infection rates in two counties

The Investigators: Small communities near Shelby County have higher incidence of COVID-19

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The COVID-19 case rate is higher in several small communities outside of Shelby County. While those counties have fewer COVID-19 cases, the disease is more prevalent.

To calculate a rate, you compare the number of COVID-19 cases to the population.

You can then compare areas with different population sizes by multiplying by 100,000 people.

While Shelby County has 420 cases per 100,000 people, Tipton County has 661 cases per 100,000 people.

Shelby County has more cases overall, 3,936 total, but COVID-19 is more prevalent in Tipton.

“We had an influx of cases as the result of the Tennessee Department of Correction testing all prisoners and employees at their facilities across the state which includes a facility in Tipton County,” said a Tennessee Department of Health spokesperson.

Meanwhile, the rate in Tunica County, MS is 467 cases per 100,000 people. There are 45 positive tests.

“Rate is based on populations,” a Mississippi State Health Department spokesperson said in an email. "Smaller populated counties can exhibit a larger jump in incidence with a smaller number of cases.

The rate of COVID-19 cases in St. Francis County is 1,046 cases per 100,000 people.

In his press conference Thursday, Governor Asa Hutchinson said that the rate is, in part, due to the federal prison in Forrest City.

“A number of staff that go from the prison facility back to the community and so that’s a leakage we’re watching,” said Gov. Hutchinson.

He said two other facilities in St. Francis County had small outbreaks as well, driving up the case rate.

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