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Georgia Southern and Bulloch County COVID-19 numbers continue to fall
GS saw 54 new cases in week, down from 508 at peak
Ted Wynn

The number of new COVID-19 cases among Georgia Southern University’s nearly 27,000 students and more than 3,000 employees fell for a third consecutive week, to 54 positive cases of the novel coronavirus reported during the seven days that ended Sunday.

That total includes 13 “university-confirmed” positive cases, meaning those directly tested by Georgia Southern Athletics or university Health Services, and 41 “self-reported” cases, meaning individuals who reported to the university CARES Center that they tested positive elsewhere, such as at a doctor’s office or a county health department.

Of the 54 cases, 47 were associated with the Statesboro campus, the other seven with the Armstrong campus in Savannah. The total number of new cases was a little more than one-tenth as many as the second week of school, Aug. 24-30, when 508 positive cases were reported in seven days, including 487 on the Statesboro campus alone.

“Though we are pleased these numbers indicate effectiveness in protecting our campus classrooms, offices and communities, we must remain vigilant with our adherence to public health guidelines,” the university states on its COVID-19 Exposure and Health Alerts webpage.

After resuming face-to-face classes Aug.  17 for the first time since March, Georgia Southern reported 71 COVID-19 cases the first week. Then, despite a face mask requirement on the campuses and social distancing in classrooms, the number of reported cases soared to 508 the next week.

But since then, the numbers have since dropped dramatically, to 363 the week of Aug. 31-Sept. 6 and then to 95 the week of Sept. 7-13, and now, to 54.

So the cumulative number of cases reported on the three campuses since the start of classes is 1,091, but the number of new cases appearing in seven days has fallen 89% since the peak week.


County numbers

Meanwhile, the number of cases reported among Bulloch County residents – which obviously include quite a few Georgia Southern students and employees – continued a generally downward trend.

Monday’s statistics from the Georgia Department of Public Health indicated just six new cases in the past 24 hours among Bulloch residents. This was after 24 new cases in Sunday’s report and 17 in Saturday’s.

So, that’s 47 new cases in three days. But in the same three days a week earlier, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, Sept. 12-14, there had been 79 new cases, and the numbers were already trending down.

So, Ted Wynn, Bulloch County’s public safety and Emergency Management Agency director, named his Monday COVID-19 update simply “Improving Numbers.” In his daily updates, he lists the local numbers from the Georgia DPH reports and provides some additional local data.

Not everything is looking good in those local numbers yet, since East Georgia Regional Medical Center was still treating 24 patients with COVID-19 Monday, and 10 of those were on ventilators, down from 25 COVID patients, with 12 on ventilators, at EGRMC Sunday. The hospital numbers include patients from other counties, as well as Bulloch.

Friday, Wynn’s daily report had revealed the death of a 25th Bulloch County resident from COVID-19. As of Monday’s report, there have been 2,788 confirmed cases, resulting in 129 hospitalizations, among Bulloch residents since the novel coronavirus first appeared here in March.

Based on Bulloch County’s population, the incidence of new cases in the past 14 days is now down to the equivalent of 422 per 100,000 people. The official goal for control of spread of the disease is under 100 cases per 100,000 residents, so that is still not met.

Just two weeks ago, with the Sept. 9 report, Bulloch County’s incidence rate was 1,209 new cases in the previous 14 days. Bulloch’s per capita new case rate was then one of the 20 highest among U.S. counties, and with the county considered instead as Statesboro’s “micropolitan” area, hit second-highest among U.S. city areas with more than 50,000 people in an online ranking maintained by the New York Times.


Bulloch Schools

The Bulloch County Schools, after reporting six confirmed cases of COVID19 among students, teachers and staff members the first week of school, 23 cases in week two and 21 in week three, have seen a less dramatic leveling off, with 13 cases in week four and 12 last week.

But Monday, the start of the sixth week of school, three new cases were reported: one each in connection with Langston Chapel Elementary School, Southeast Bulloch High School and Statesboro High School. These resulted in 44 people being sent home from school for precautionary 14-day quarantines.

To date, the 15-campus school system, with 6,026 of its current 10,848 students attending in-person and the rest receiving virtual instruction, has reported 79 COVID-19 cases. These have resulted in 729 precautionary, individual quarantines since school began.  But most of the quarantined students and employees experience no symptoms and return after 14 days. Monday, 182 individuals remained quarantined.

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