Estimated Community Seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies - Two Georgia Counties, April 28-May 3, 2020

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2020 Jul 24;69(29):965-970. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6929e2.


Transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is ongoing in many communities throughout the United States. Although case-based and syndromic surveillance are critical for monitoring the pandemic, these systems rely on persons obtaining testing or reporting a COVID-19-like illness. Using serologic tests to detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies is an adjunctive strategy that estimates the prevalence of past infection in a population. During April 28-May 3, 2020, coinciding with the end of a statewide shelter-in-place order, CDC and the Georgia Department of Public Health conducted a serologic survey in DeKalb and Fulton counties in metropolitan Atlanta to estimate SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence in the population. A two-stage cluster sampling design was used to randomly select 30 census blocks in each county, with a target of seven participating households per census block. Weighted estimates were calculated to account for the probability of selection and adjusted for age group, sex, and race/ethnicity. A total of 394 households and 696 persons participated and had a serology result; 19 (2.7%) of 696 persons had SARS-CoV-2 antibodies detected. The estimated weighted seroprevalence across these two metropolitan Atlanta counties was 2.5% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.4-4.5). Non-Hispanic black participants more commonly had SARS-CoV-2 antibodies than did participants of other racial/ethnic groups (p<0.01). Among persons with SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, 13 (weighted % = 49.9; 95% CI = 24.4-75.5) reported a COVID-19-compatible illness,* six (weighted % = 28.2; 95% CI = 11.9-53.3) sought medical care for a COVID-19-compatible illness, and five (weighted % = 15.7; 95% CI = 5.1-39.4) had been tested for SARS-CoV-2 infection, demonstrating that many of these infections would not have been identified through case-based or syndromic surveillance. The relatively low seroprevalence estimate in this report indicates that most persons in the catchment area had not been infected with SARS-CoV-2 at the time of the survey. Continued preventive measures, including social distancing, consistent and correct use of face coverings, and hand hygiene, remain critical in controlling community spread of SARS-CoV-2.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood*
  • Betacoronavirus / immunology*
  • COVID-19 Testing
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques*
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Georgia / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Public Health Surveillance / methods*
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Young Adult


  • Antibodies, Viral