At least 100 more coronavirus cases have been confirmed among Barrow County residents over the past week, aligning with a recent spike in the number of cases statewide.
According to the latest figures released by the Georgia Department of Public Health at 3 p.m. Tuesday, June 30, there had been 523 confirmed cases in Barrow since the start of the outbreak. That was up 38 from the 485 confirmed cases in the department’s Monday, June 29 report and up from 423 on June 23.
The department’s official death toll among county residents remained at 25, unchanged from a week ago.
Statewide, the number of confirmed cases had risen to 81,291 as of Tuesday afternoon while 2,805 COVID-19-related deaths had been confirmed.
As local cases have spiked, area hospitalizations have remained steady in recent weeks. There have been no patients confirmed to have COVID-19 at Northeast Georgia Medical Center Barrow in Winder since June 17. According to the latest data from Northeast Georgia Health System released Tuesday morning, there were 55 confirmed patients were across the system’s hospitals and other facilities — 29 of them at NGMC Gainesville — and 13 patients were awaiting test results. It wasn’t clear where those patients awaiting those results were hospitalized.
Ventilator usage for the system was at 27 percent, where it has hovered around for the past week. In all, 971 COVID-19 patients have been discharged by the system, while 114 have died.
The number of COVID-19-positive patients at NGHS facilities as of Tuesday was down slightly from a monthly high of 75 on June 24 but up from, up from a monthly low of 46 on June 15, but way down from regular tallies of over 100 in April and most of May when the virus reached its initial speak in the state and the northeast Georgia region. System officials have credited strong social-distancing efforts across local communities for helping keep the hospitalization numbers down.
As restrictions have been eased around the country, including Georgia, spikes have been reported across the U.S., especially around the South and West. Testing has also continued to increase in Georgia, with long lines and delayed results being reported around the state.
On Sunday, June 28, the state reported a daily record of 2,225 cases and reported 2,207 more on Monday, June 29. More than 1,800 new cases were reported Tuesday. Hospitalizations and the rate of positive tests have also been trending upward around the state, Gov. Brian Kemp and state officials said.
And while the bulk of the newly-confirmed cases around the state have been adults under 30 years old, health officials have warned the virus can still easily spread to the elderly and medically-vulnerable populations.
On Monday, Kemp extended the state’s public health state of emergency declaration through Aug. 11, which gives him the authority to impose new restrictions in order to curb the spread of the virus. Though Kemp has said he doesn’t currently plan to implement tougher restrictions, on Monday he extended the shelter-in-place order for the state’s elderly and medically-fragile residents two more weeks through July 15. He also extended the current restrictions on restaurants and certain businesses through July 15 after continuing to relax restrictions in recent weeks.
The executive orders signed by Kemp also require continued social distancing, ban gatherings of more than 50 people unless there is six feet between each person and that the State Board of Education provide "rules, regulations and guidance for the operation of public elementary and secondary schools for local boards of education" in accordance with guidance from the Department of Public Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Kemp also announced he and other officials would embark on a statewide “Wear your mask” tour this week with stops scheduled in Atlanta, Columbus, Albany, Valdosta, Dalton, Augusta and Brunswick.