Confirmation on two consecutive days, Tuesday and Wednesday, of the deaths of the 26th and 27th Bulloch County residents from COVID-19 cast sadness over a recent downward trend in the number of new cases.
The 27th victim was a 78-year-old woman with no “comorbidities,” Bulloch County Public Safety Director Ted Wynn reported in his Wednesday COVID-19 update. The 26th was a 69-year-old woman with comorbidities, he had noted in his update one day earlier.
No specifics of other health conditions are made public in relation to particular cases. But cancer, chronic kidney disease, serious heart conditions, type 2 diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are among underlying, or “comorbid,” conditions identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as putting people of any age at increased risk of severe illness from the novel coronavirus.
Just last Friday, Wynn’s report included Bulloch County’s 25th death from COVID-19, that of a 74-year-old woman. The Georgia Department of Public Health database now shows “yes” for comorbidity beside the notation of someone this age who died in Bulloch County.
Less than two weeks ago, Sept. 12, the update noted the death of the youngest Bulloch resident yet to succumb to the disease, a 36-year-old woman with no known underlying conditions.
Wynn provides the case and fatality counts from the Bulloch County page in the Georgia DPH statewide reports, available to the public at https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report. He supplements the DPH statistics with some additional data, such as the number of COVID-19 patients treated at the local hospital or transported by the Emergency Medical Service.
He does not provide a breakdown by race and gender, but the DPH database indicates that of the 27 Bulloch residents who have died of the coronavirus, 17 were White while 10 were African-American or Black. Despite national indications that men are more likely to die of the disease, here 18 of those who have died were female and nine male.
Wednesday’s report also brought an upturn in the number of new cases, with 40 confirmed among Bulloch residents in the previous 24 hours, after these numbers had dipped into the single digits for two days.
Only eight newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported among Bulloch County residents in the 24 hours before Tuesday’s update. This was up from just six new cases in Monday’s report, but down from 24 in Sunday’s.
But despite Wednesday’s higher one-day count, the trend over the past week continued to pull down the 14-day rate of new cases, an improvement that local officials had been hoping to see.
As of Wednesday, Bulloch County’s rate was 381 new cases per 100,000 people in the past 14 days. Tuesday it had been 390 per 100,000.
These numbers are still well above the official goal of less than 100 cases per 100,000 people to limit community spread of the disease. But the local rate has fallen by more than two-thirds from the 1,209 new cases per 100,000 people reported in the two weeks prior to Sept. 9. At that time, Bulloch ranked in the top 20 U.S. counties for newly reported cases.
The number of people being treated for COVID-19 at East Georgia Regional Medical Center has been declining gradually for several days. Wednesday the Statesboro hospital had 18 COVID patients, including eight on ventilators, Wynn reported. There had been 25 COVID patients, with 12 on ventilators, hospitalized at EGRMC on Sunday. The hospital numbers include people from other counties, as well as Bulloch residents.
Since the disease was first reported here in March, there have been 2,836 cases confirmed among Bulloch County residents, resulting in 131 hospitalizations and the 27 deaths. The Bulloch County EMS has transported or contacted 125 people with probable COVID-19 and 129 people with confirmed cases.
With increased opportunities for testing, the seven-day average of positive test results in Bulloch County is now 10.1%, while the goal is reduce this number to less than 5%, Wynn reported. Two weeks earlier, on Sept. 9, the seven-day average rate had been 18.2% positive tests.
William James Middle School had one new case reported among students and employees Wednesday, with no resulting precautionary quarantines resulting from close contact. Statesboro High School had one new case reported Tuesday, resulting in nine people going to precautionary 14-day quarantine.
None of the other 14 schools in the Bulloch County system had any new cases Tuesday or Wednesday, but one person connected with Southeast Bulloch High School was quarantined Tuesday, apparently because of a possible contact elsewhere.
With 81 cases among students and personnel since the start of school Aug. 17, the Bulloch County schools have had 739 individuals in precautionary quarantine at one time or another. Of those individuals, 190 remained quarantined Wednesday.
EGSC and OTC
Meanwhile, East Georgia State College recorded three new, self-reported cases of COVID-19 Monday, but all were on the Swainsboro campus. The last new case on EGSC’s Statesboro campus was reported one week earlier, but 13 cases were reported there Sept. 1-14.
Ogeechee Technical College had five cases reported, all on its Bulloch County campus, the week of Sept. 14-20, after six cases Sept. 7-13 but 12 cases Aug. 31-Sept. 6.
As previously reported, Georgia Southern University had 54 new cases, including 47 cases on the Statesboro campus, in the seven days that ended Sunday. These numbers have declined each week since with the case counts having dropped every week since Aug. 24-30, when 508 cases were reported among the university’s students and employees, including 487 on the Statesboro campus.
The Bulloch County Health Department, 1 W. Altman St., 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 Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Luetta Moore Park, 121 Martin Luther King Jr Drive.