Virus Outbreak-Georgia

A poll worker wearing a protective shield is seen at the Dunwoody Library on Monday, May 18, 2020, in Dunwoody, Ga. Georgians were greeted with a few new procedures as they participated in the first day of in-person early voting for the state's June 9 primaries with the coronavirus pandemic ongoing.

(The Center Square) – COVID-19 hospitalizations in Georgia have reached their lowest point since April 8, when hospitals started reporting data to the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA).

Gov. Brian Kemp's office and GEMA said 986 people were hospitalized Tuesday with COVID-19. The total represented a 12 percent decrease since May 12.

As of Wednesday morning, the Georgia Department of Public Health reported there has been 38,889 COVID-19 cases in the state, including 1,684 deaths.

"Our hospitalization numbers continue to show encouraging signs in our fight against COVID-19, but we must remain vigilant in our efforts to combat this virus," Kemp said. "I continue to ask Georgians to practice social distancing, follow the advice of public health officials, and protect the elderly and medically fragile."

Georgia was the first state in the U.S. to lift restrictions placed on businesses in response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Kemp allowed parts of Georgia's economy to reopen April 24, a decision that, at the time, spawned criticism from many people, including President Donald Trump, for being too soon.

Gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, tattoo studios, barbers, cosmetologists, nail technicians and beauty schools were allowed to reopen April 24, and theaters, private social clubs and dine-in restaurants were allowed to reopen April 27.

The moving seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases April 24 was 744.9. On May 6, the last day before the current open 14-day window, the seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases was 565.4.

Data over the past 14 days are considered incomplete by the state because confirmed cases may not be accounted for because illnesses yet to be reported or test results still may be pending.

The moving seven-day average of new COVID-19 deaths on April 24 was 36.7. On May 6, that average was 28.1.

Fulton County has reported the most COVID-19 deaths in the state through Wednesday, with 174, followed by Dougherty County (139), Cobb County (135), Gwinnett County (114) and DeKalb County (87). No other county in the state has reported more than 40 deaths. Thirty-one counties have reported no deaths.

Georgia has conducted 402,940 tests. Kemp said Monday that Georgia ranks 21st in the U.S. out of 54 states and territories in the current percentage of total population tested, up from 46th a month ago. Among states with more than 5 million residents, Georgia ranks eighth out of 23 states, Kemp said.

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus. The disease has caused at least 92,138 deaths in the U.S., with more than 1.53 million confirmed cases in the country. COVID-19 symptoms appear within two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell.

Regional Editor

Jason Schaumburg is an award-winning, veteran editor who has been a journalist for more than 20 years. He spent a decade as the top editor in three northern Illinois newsrooms for Shaw Media and Pioneer Press.