Georgia's current COVID-19 situation looks good when compared to other states where coronavirus infections are climbing even more steeply, but both the number of deaths, new cases and hospitalizations are on the rise throughout the state.
Georgia passed 8,500 confirmed deaths Wednesday, with the average number of deaths recorded also rising in recent weeks. The number of people hospitalized with the respiratory illness has increased more than 40% in the last five weeks.
"We are at a very difficult point in the pandemic right now in our country," Emory University's Dr. Carlos Rio, executive associate dean of the university's School of Medicine, said in a briefing Friday.
With 6,164 new cases reported the past two days — 3,602 on Tuesday, 2,562 on Wednesday — Georgia now has 393,980 total cases.
Also, the seven-day rolling average of confirmed and suspected cases has risen nearly 9% in the last week to nearly 2,700 a day. That’s about the same rate of increase as the week before. One in every 765 Georgians tested positive in the past week, according to data kept by The Associated Press.
While most people who contract the coronavirus recover after suffering only mild to moderate symptoms, it can be deadly for older patients and those with other health problems.
As of Wednesday afternoon, 249,733 Americans had died from coronavirus, 2,975 in the past two days, and the U.S. had recorded 11,441,946 confirmed cases, 327,795 in the past two days, according to statistics from the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.
Positivity rate up in Bulloch
The share of positive tests, another indicator that the virus is spreading widely, has also been trending up. In fact, Bulloch County’s positivity rate rose above 10% on Wednesday with a seven-day average of 10.2% of tests given resulting in positive diagnoses for COVID.
Public Safety/Emergency Management Agency Director Ted Wynn said Bulloch reported 10 new cases on Tuesday and three on Wednesday. Wynn said the county has now recorded 3,225 total COVID cases, which have resulted in 34 deaths and 150 local residents being hospitalized since the pandemic began in March.
Hospitalizations at East Georgia Regional Medical Center have been on a downward trend the past week and on Wednesday hospital staff were caring for four COVID patients, with two patients on ventilators.
Bulloch EMS has transported a total of 132 people with probable COVID-19 and 157 with confirmed cases.
Georgia continues to report that nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are the top sites for outbreaks, followed by schools, workplaces, correctional facilities and factories. The state lists 50 counties with high transmission, including a belt along the western edge of the state running north from LaGrange and another belt along the South Carolina line.
Gov Brian Kemp has extended his executive orders curtailing some pandemic restrictions, but there are continuing questions whether some provisions, such as bans on gatherings of more than 50 people who aren’t socially distanced, are being enforced. Kemp has said little about the virus in recent days, having last given a public briefing on the virus on Oct. 7.
“We continue to watch the numbers with Dr. Toomey and her team,” Kemp spokesperson Cody Hall, referring to Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey.
Meanwhile, Dr. Del Rio is calling for a nationwide mask mandate and reduced capacity or closure at places that people congregate such as bars, restaurants, religious congregations, gyms and hotels.
As of Wednesday, 36 states – plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico – now require everyone within their borders to wear face coverings in public, according to a list maintained by AARP. Iowa, Utah and North Dakota joined the list in recent days, and Maine, Ohio and West Virginia strengthened their mandates last week.
Gov. Kemp, while encouraging mask use, has not issued such a mandate for Georgia.
Bulloch County Schools System has had a total of 167 COVID cases since Aug. 17.
For the first time since the week of Sept. 20-26, positive cases at Georgia Southern rose above 20 for a seven-day period, with 27 cases reported for the week of Nov. 9–15. Fifteen of the 27 cases this week were reported on the Statesboro campus.
Georgia Southern will report again on Monday, Nov. 23.
East Georgia State College has reported no new cases of COVID-19 on any of its three campuses since Nov. 10 and has recorded three new cases since Oct. 21. The college has had a total of 96 cases across its three campuses since Aug. 17.
For the third consecutive week, Ogeechee Technical College reported no new COVID cases over the previous seven-day period and has had only one new case since Oct. 19. The college has had a total of 37 cases across its campuses since Aug. 17. OTC will report again on Monday, Nov. 23.
The Bulloch County Health Department, 1 W. Altman St. in Statesboro, continues to serve as a COVID-19 testing site, or specimen point of collection. It operates 8 a.m. till noon Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. To schedule a free test, call (855) 473-4374 or visit www.sehdph.org/covid-19, where a test can be scheduled online.
Additional free COVID-19 testing continues Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon at Luetta Moore Park, 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.