The rate of new coronavirus infections in Barrow County continued to drop steadily over the last week, but nine more county residents died from COVID-19 during the same time frame, according to the latest numbers from the Georgia Department of Public Health.
As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 2, at least 7,364 people in Barrow County have tested positive for the virus since the start of the pandemic late last winter, including 37 new cases reported Tuesday by the state agency. But the seven-day new case average in the county had dropped down to 44.1 after being above 70 two weeks ago, and the seven-day positivity average for tests administered had dipped to 18.8 percent, down from the around 30-percent mark it sat for most of December and early January.
But while the case numbers have remained high, yet shown encouraging signs of dropping, deaths have not slowed down. As of Tuesday, the state had confirmed 96 deaths among county residents — up from 87 in the Jan. 26 tally — and another death as listed as a “probable” result of COVID-19. Most of the deaths in Barrow have been people over the age of 60, though the two youngest listed ones were 26 and 37 and there were several in their 40s and 50s.
One death was recently reported at Gateway Gardens Assisted Living and Memory Care in Bethlehem, and Magnolia Estates of Winder has now recorded four deaths. Winder Health Care and Rehabilitation had 17 deaths from the virus during a large outbreak last spring, but has not reported any others since June.
The recent trend in Barrow is largely in line with the outlook across Georgia. The state reported 2,996 cases Tuesday with a seven-day rolling average of just under 4,000 new cases — down from a previous high of more than 7,000 in mid-January. In all, 755,412 cases have been confirmed across the state, and another 162,028 likely cases have been reported through positive antigen tests. Still, the state reported 162 more deaths Tuesday, raising the total to 12,772 confirmed deaths and another 1,678 probable deaths.
Northeast Georgia Health System, the four-hospital system that services Barrow County, continued to report lower hospitalization numbers across its facilities as well over the last week and a much lower seven-day positivity rate of 18.1 percent, down sharply from early to mid-January when the system was reporting an average around 35 to 36 percent.
As of Tuesday, 232 patients positive for COVID-19 were being treated across the system, including 13 at Northeast Georgia Medical Center Barrow in Winder and 60 at NGMC Braselton. Thirty-six more patients were awaiting their test results Tuesday morning. The system added another 44 deaths over the past week, bringing its total to 808.
In its weekly report issued Thursday, Jan. 28, the Barrow County School System reported that 46 students and 25 employees tested positive for the virus from Jan. 21-27, and nine additional students and six more staff members were quarantined as a “probable case.” Another 538 students and 51 staffers had to quarantine due to direct contact with someone with a positive or probable case.
For now, only medical workers, long-term care facility residents and staff, first responders and those over age 65 (along with caregivers) qualify for the vaccine.
The Barrow County Health Department is providing vaccines, but appointments are required. To make an appointment, those eligible are asked to fill out a pre-registration form at https://bit.ly/NEHDCOVIDVaccine. After the pre-registration form has been completed, people will be contacted by department representatives to make an official appointment. People will be contacted by the order in which their form is received, but officials are saying that process could still take several weeks. Priority is being given to county residents.
If you are unable to pre-register on the website, you may call 706-340-0996 for assistance. However, operators and health department staff are unable to schedule appointments and can only assist with pre-registration.
Vaccines are also available locally at Health Associates of Georgia, 323 Resource Pkwy., Winder, and Medlink Winder, 133 West Athens St.
For more information, go to https://dph.georgia.gov/locations/covid-vaccination-site.