These 20 US Counties Are 'Delta Danger Zones'

Dejania Oliver

July 23, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

A new data analysis of Delta variant coronavirus cases in the U.S. has found that 20 counties are "Delta danger zones."

Surgo Ventures, a nonprofit organization, released results from its analysis relating to the Delta variant, which now makes up 83% of new cases in the U.S. The data shows a link between rising COVID-19 cases and vulnerable U.S. counties with low vaccination rates, with 20 counties being hardest-hit.

These vulnerable counties are in seven states: Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas. The analysis looked at the percentage of the county population fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and the average number of new COVID-19 cases per day per 100,000 people in the past week.

Surgo Ventures believes these places need immediate help with fighting the virus.

"We believe these 20 counties are Delta danger zones, which means they represent the strongest convergence of COVID-19 vulnerability, underlying community barriers to vaccine uptake, and low vaccination rates of all counties in the United States at this point in time," said Sema Sgaier, PhD, co-founder and CEO of Surgo Ventures and an adjunct assistant professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. "We are calling on public health officials and local leaders in these counties to take immediate action, and they can start by leveraging our data-driven, 4-step community blueprint for increasing vaccination coverage."

Surgo did the analysis using data from its COVID Community Vulnerability Index and COVID-19 Vaccine Coverage Index with CDC data as of July 19. Both show how access to health care, resources, and other factors affect the number of unvaccinated people that live in those areas, thus making these counties more vulnerable than others.

The COVID-19 Vaccine Coverage Index highlights the challenges states are facing in getting their residents vaccinated. This index allows you to search a specific state and see data from five areas: history of low vaccination rates, sociodemographic barriers, low access to health care, barriers to health care, and poor history of regular care.

In the seven states named in the analysis, each had vaccination rates lower than the U.S. average, which is 48%. Arkansas had the lowest, at 36%, and Florida had the highest, tying the U.S. rate with 48%.

The 20 counties declared "Delta danger zones" are:

  1. Charlton, GA

  2. Newton, TX

  3. Pemiscot, MO

  4. McDonald, MO

  5. Grundy, TN

  6. Ziebach, SD

  7. Hempstead, AR

  8. Ripley, MO

  9. Lanier, GA

  10. Motley, TX

  11. Baker, FL

  12. Telfair, GA

  13. Heard, GA

  14. Holmes, FL

  15. Washington, FL

  16. Carter, MO

  17. Jeff Davis, GA

  18. Texas, MO

  19. Treutlen, GA

  20. Bacon, GA



Surgo Ventures: "Analysis: As Delta variant of COVID-19 spreads, Surgo Ventures releases list of the 20 U.S. counties deemed 'Delta danger zones.'"

CNN: "More infectious Delta variant makes up 83% of new US coronavirus cases as vaccine hesitancy persists."