More than half of the roughly 550,000 voters who cast their ballot using a drop box in the state’s 2020 general election lived in four metro Atlanta counties — Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett — where about 50% of the voters are people of color.
Under the new law, the number of drop boxes in these four counties plummeted from 107 to 25.
Nearly 1.9 million people, a quarter of the state’s voters, have seen their travel time to a drop box increase from the 2020 election.
More than 90% of voters who saw an increase in their travel time to a drop box live in cities or suburbs, which are home to most of the state’s minority voters and vote heavily Democratic.
Learn4Life’s State of Education 2021 reveals a concerning trend: metro Atlanta students experienced interrupted learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Eighth grade math proficiency dropped 14 points from the 2018/19 academic year to the 2020/21 academic year. Reading proficiency has also declined since the 2018/19 academic year, reversing progress made in the year prior to the pandemic. Teacher burnout has exacerbated challenges in education, making it likely that learning loss will have lasting effects and be difficult to reverse.
In the last few weeks, the number of COVID cases rose by 153%, hospital admissions rose 62%, and deaths from COVID rose 27% according to Amber Schmidtke’s latest COVID Digest. Additionally, the number of positive PCR tests rose from 5.7% to 32.6%. Cases and hospitalizations are rising for all age groups, but individuals aged 18-29 have had the sharpest increase in cases and hospitalizations. Metro Atlanta leads the current surge in cases whereas previous surges, such as the Delta wave in August-September 2021, had a greater proportional effect on rural areas. The current surge has been exacerbated by individuals gathering to celebrate the holidays, and cases are expected to continue increasing throughout January. This will likely strain hospitals which are already struggling due to lack of staffing.
Takeaway: Stronger public health measures, including improved vaccination and booster rates, will be necessary to curb the current rise in COVID-19 cases.
This year’s Metro Atlanta Speaks (MAS) survey, the largest public opinion survey in the Atlanta region, showed that 23.9% of respondents reported receiving food from a food bank compared to 17.9% of respondents in 2020. United Way’s 2-1-1 call data, however, found that fewer people were calling to request information about food pantries in 2021 than at the start of the pandemic. Calls about food pantries peaked in March 2020 at 2,255 calls. Comparatively, food pantry calls averaged around 700 calls per month in 2021. This could indicate that many families were concerned about needing to use a food pantry after the initial shock of the pandemic, but actually continued to need assistance over one year into the pandemic.
Takeaway: The increased use of food banks in 2021 indicates the need for a more aggressive approach to addressing income inequality.