By Joe Johnson
The number of people in Athens who have tested positive for the coronavirus increased by three as of Wednesday afternoon, according to the Georgia Department of Health.
When it released itsprevious update at 7 p.m. Tuesday, the DPH reported there were 16 confirmed cases of the highly-infectious disease in Athen-Clarke County, but that number ticked up to 19 at noon on Wednesday.
The DPH provides updates twice daily, at noon and 7 p.m.
The most recent data showed that Oconee and Madison counties remained steady with five and one confirmed cases, respectively.
Barrow County saw an increase, from one to two cases, according to the DPH, which indicated that Jackson County recorded its first confirmed case of the disease.
Included in the 19 confirmed Athens-Clarke cases was that of a man who, the DPH reported on Tuesday, was the first in the county to have died from the disease, also known as COVID-19.
“The individual, a 67-year-old male, died in an Athens hospital and was a resident. In addition to testing positive for COVID-19, he had existing medical conditions,” the DPH’s Northeast Health District reported.
The health district comprises Athens-Clarke, Jackson, Madison, Oconee, Oglethorpe, Elbert, Walton, Greene, Morgan and Barrow counties.
Also as of Tuesday evening, the DPH reported there were 1,247 confirmed cases of COVID-19 statewide, with 40 deaths and 394 people hospitalized with the disease.
Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart and lung disease or diabetes are at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 and should always consult their healthcare provider if they are sick. Long-term care facilities, nursing homes, and congregate living settings for older people must strictly follow COVID-19 prevention measures to stop rapid spread of the virus.
The DPH stressed that all Georgians play a critical role in helping to slow the spread of COVID-19 by adhering to the following guidance:
Practice social distancing by putting at least 6 feet between yourself and other people.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Stay home if you are sick.
Athens-Clarke County last week ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses and banned gatherings of more than 10 people. The measure is designed to “flatten the curve” of the spread of the deadly virus by minimizing possible contacts with infected people.