The Standard Journal

Polk, NWGA record more deaths than births in 2020

- By Diane Wagner

Polk County had more deaths than births last year, according to a new statistica­l report from the Georgia Department of Community Health. Statewide, however, that wasn’t the case.

Most counties in Northwest Georgia, with the exception of Bartow, Paulding and Whitfield, mirrored Polk County’s distinctio­n of having more deaths than births but statewide, Georgia recorded 122,379 births and 103,114 deaths — a net gain of 19,265 people in 2020.

Heart disease remained the No. 1 killer in Northwest Georgia, but COVID-19 was a close second.

Public health data is housed in OASIS — the state’s Online Analytical Statistica­l Informatio­n System. The interactiv­e site offers tools to track and compare a full range of physical and behavioral health trends by location and demographi­cs.

Overall, the 14th Congressio­nal District, including Polk, had 302 more deaths than births. Taking a narrower scope, Floyd County and its seven neighborin­g counties in the far northwest corner of the state recorded 762 more deaths than births. That includes Bartow, which is not in the 14th district.

Polk County

Polk County registered a net loss of 18 residents, with 553 births and 571 deaths drawn from the DPH’s Office of Vital Records— although it does not include people who have moved into or out of the county.

Between 2016 and 2020, heart and vascular disease was the No. 1 cause of death in Georgia. Rounding out the top five were COPD (except for asthma); Alzheimer’s disease; malignant neoplasms — cancer — of the trachea, bronchus and lung; and cerebrovas­cular disease, most commonly a stroke.

Heart disease was the cause of death for 68 Polk residents, followed by COVID-19 with 46 people killed by the virus in 2020.

COPD was in third place, with 32 deaths; lung, throat and bronchus cancers killed 30; Alzheimer’s was the cause of death for 29; and 28 residents died of strokes or other cerebrovas­cular diseases.

Floyd County

OASIS numbers show 1,119 babies born to Floyd County residents in 2020, and 1,346 deaths. That’s a loss of 227 people

COVID-19 entered the mix in 2020. In Floyd and its seven neighborin­g counties a total of 567 people died of heart disease, but COVID-19 caused the deaths of 507.

While the historical top five diseases killed 381 Floyd County residents in 2020 — heart disease accounted for 121 — COVID-19 was in second place with 107 victims.

COPD accounted for 67 deaths; stroke took another 67; Alzheimer’s was listed as the cause of 65 deaths; and lung cancer fell to sixth place with 61 deaths.

Bartow County

In Bartow County, there were 1,311 live births compared to 1,209 deaths, for a gain of 102 people. COVID-19 caused the most deaths in Bartow in 2020, with a toll of 116. Heart disease was second, with 82.

COPD was the cause listed for 64 deaths, followed by cancer at 61, Alzheimer’s at 57 and stroke at 56.

Some of the other five counties in the 14th Congressio­nal District fared better in terms of vital statistics for 2020:

Paulding County had a gain of 693 people, with 1,987 births compared to 1,294 deaths.

Whitfield County gained 181, through 1,245 births and 1,064 deaths.

Haralson County had 363 births and 475 deaths, for a loss of 112 people.

Murray County had 418 births compared to 485 deaths, a loss of67 residents.

Pickens County lost 133 people, with 285 births and 418 deaths. Only half of Pickens is in the 14th District.

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