Virus update 1

The Georgia Department of Public Health has recorded a fifth death in Barrow County from COVID-19.

And on Monday, the Georgia Department of Community Health confirmed the death of a resident at Winder Health Care and Rehabilitation, the long-term care facility on East May Street that has been hit hard by the pandemic. 

It was not immediately known whether the death reported at Winder Health Care was the death confirmed by DPH.

The death listed by DPH was a female with an underlying medical condition. Her age was not listed. The previous four deaths were listed as a 66-year-old male, a 91-year-old female and a 64-year-old male with underlying conditions, and an 84-year-old female whose co-morbidities were unknown. 

According to the latest DPH figures, as of 7:25 p.m. Tuesday, there were 29,892 confirmed coronavirus cases around the state — including 177 in Barrow County, an increase of 36 since Friday and 53 over the past week. And at least 1,295 people had died from COVID-19 — a mortality rate of 4.3 percent. 

The latest numbers for counties around Barrow include:

•Gwinnett County — 2,101 cases and 77 deaths.

•Hall County — 1,838 cases and 26 deaths.

•Clarke County — 168 cases and 13 deaths.

•Walton County — 139 cases and five deaths.

•Jackson County — 116 cases and three deaths.

•Oconee County — 67 cases and no deaths.

•Banks County — 29 cases and no deaths.

•Madison County — 27 cases and one death.

The numbers have continued to increase as the number of tests has steadily grown to past 200,000 as of Tuesday morning. The numbers aren't a real-time reflection of the pandemic in Georgia as state officials have acknowledged a reporting lag of up to two weeks.

Still, Georgia is in its first full week since the statewide mandatory shelter-in-place order was lifted on Friday, May 1, and more businesses have begun to reopen. People are still urged to practice social distancing and wear masks in public, and the state's elderly and medically fragile residents have been ordered to shelter in place through June 12. 

Gov. Brian Kemp has defended his easing of restrictions as a measured step to rejuvenate a battered economy and said he has relied on favorable data that showed the worst of the virus has passed in Georgia. 

But public health experts have continued to criticize his actions, saying they are opening up the state to a second wave and future spikes in infections and deaths. 

According to numerous national and statewide news outlets, the Atlanta-based CDC presented a report to the White House indicating the nationwide daily death rate will rise steeply by the end of May and that the metro Atlanta region will continue to see an increase. 

The virus has shown few signs of slowing down in Barrow County and the surrounding area, particularly in Hall County, which has seen a spread of the virus among many of its poultry industry workers.

As of Tuesday morning, 203 current patients across Northeast Georgia Health System's hospitals and facilities were either confirmed to have COVID-19 or were awaiting test results. That was up from 183 on Monday. The system reported 16 more discharges but also two more deaths, bringing the total to 45. 

At Northeast Georgia Medical Center Barrow, 12 patients confirmed to have COVID-19 were being treated as of Tuesday morning. That was down from 13 on Monday afternoon. There were no other statistics for NGMC Barrow available Tuesday. As of Monday, three more patients were awaiting test results and 21 had been discharged.

Systemwide across NGHS, as of Monday, 116 Barrow residents had been treated and four had died. 

At Winder Health Care, 21 employees and 12 residents have tested positive for COVID-19. Last week, the facility requested emergency staffing from the state and testing of all its residents by the Georgia National Guard. That testing was delayed by two days due to tests being sent to a jail in another county. The Guard's public affairs office has not responded to The Barrow News-Journal's inquiries about that decision. 

Nationwide, there were 1.2 million confirmed cases and 70,900 deaths as of 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine online tracker.

Anyone who believes they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or believes they may have been exposed to the virus is advised to contact their primary care doctor or an urgent care clinic. Do not show up unannounced at an emergency room or any medical facility. Only people who have been evaluated by public health officials at their local health department or a health care provider and assigned a PUI number will be referred to the drive-thru specimen collection sites.

A statewide COVID-19 hotline is available at 844-442-2681.

Continue to check for the latest local and statewide updates related to the coronavirus pandemic.

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