New COVID-19 cases are setting daily records across the United States, and the state of Georgia has returned to the White House Coronavirus Task Force Red Zone due to an increase in infections, but Bulloch County has not seen similar spikes in new cases.
Nonetheless, Public Safety/Emergency Management Agency Director Ted Wynn sees “warning signs” and urged Bulloch residents to “not let their guard down.”
Wynn said Bulloch reported 21 new cases combined for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, but did report its 34th death as a result of the virus. He said the victim was an 82-year-old man with no comorbid conditions.
In his report Friday, Wynn said there were four new cases, and the county has now recorded 3,194 total COVID cases, which have resulted in 34 deaths and 149 local residents being hospitalized since the pandemic began in March.
“I think that coronavirus fatigue is real for many, but we have to remain vigilant,” Wynn said. “While the eight months since the virus became known to us is a long time, it is important to continue with following the basic precautions of wearing a mask, socially distancing and avoiding large gatherings.”
While the decline in new cases in Bulloch that started in late September has continued through the first two weeks of November, Wynn said he as seen a significant decline in the number of people being tested locally at the same time the positivity rate for tests remains above 7.5%.
According to the Southeast Health District, which includes Bulloch and 12 other counties, Bulloch administered 1,257 COVID tests the week of Aug. 31–Sept. 6, but only 287 for the week of Nov. 2–8.
“I view the decline in people getting tested as part of the virus fatigue I mentioned,” Wynn said. “People may have some symptoms but don’t feel too bad so they don’t get tested and don’t quarantine. While that’s understandable, please remember you could infect someone else who may be vulnerable to the worst effects of COVID.”
On Sept. 4, 30.2% of all tests given in Bulloch County were coming back positive for coronavirus. From that negative high, Bulloch was down to 7.7% in Friday’s report. Also, on Sept. 9, Bulloch’s average number of new cases for a two-week period reached a high of 1,206 cases per 100,000 population. On Friday, that number had fallen to 131 cases per 100,000 population for a two-week period.
Wynn pointed out that while those trends are a good sign, the numbers still are higher than the Georgia Department of Health set as targets — a less than 5% positive test rate and less than 100 cases per 100,000 population for a two-week period.
“Until there is a vaccine and it is distributed, we have to keep the spread minimized because overburdening our health care system remains a real concern,” Wynn said. “There is encouraging news on the vaccine, but we have to keep our guard up until it is available.”
Record number of cases across U.S.
Cases per day across the United States are on the rise in 49 states, and deaths per day are climbing in 39. On Thursday, the U.S. set a single-day record with 150,526 new cases.
Deaths per day in the U.S. have soared more than 40% over the past two weeks, from an average of about 790 to more than 1,100 as of Wednesday, the highest level in three months.
Newly confirmed cases per day in the U.S. have rocketed more than 70% over the past two weeks, reaching an average of about 127,000 — the highest on record. And the number of people hospitalized with the virus hit an all-time high of more than 65,000.
The American Medical Association renewed its plea for mask-wearing, physical distancing and frequent hand-washing.
“With the holidays quickly approaching, each of us must do everything possible to reduce the spread of COVID-19," said AMA President Susan Bailey. “Failing to do our part will prolong the suffering and disruption to our lives and inevitably lead to more deaths of our friends, neighbors and loved ones.”
As of Friday afternoon, 243,466 Americans had died from coronavirus, and the U.S. had recorded 10,693,773 confirmed cases, according to statistics from the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.
Locally, East Georgia Regional Medical Center staff were caring for nine COVID patients, with four patients on ventilators.
Bulloch EMS has transported a total of 131 people with probable COVID-19 and 152 with confirmed cases.
Georgia reported 2,383 new cases on Friday and 2,545 on Thursday, the highest two-day total since August, bringing the state’s total number of confirmed cases up to 382,505. Georgia reported 22 deaths on Monday and for the last 232 for the last five days combined, the highest five-day period since late September, raising the death toll to 8,418.
The Bulloch County Schools system now has had a total of 153 COVID cases since Aug. 17.
Positive cases at Georgia Southern have stayed in a range of between 11 and 19 new cases per week since Sept. 26, with 17 cases reported for the week of Nov. 2–8. The next report will be released Monday
East Georgia State College reported three new cases of COVID-19 on its campuses since Tuesday. The college has had a total of 96 cases across its three campuses since Aug. 17.
For the second 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.
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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.