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Athens coronavirus cases now at 24; Barrow County enacts restrictions to curb spread of the disease

By Joe Johnson

As of noon Thursday, there were 24 cases of confirmed coronavirus cases in Athens-Clarke County, up from 21 on Wednesday evening, according to the Georgia Department of Health.

The DPF provides statewide coronavirus updates twice daily, at noon and 7 p.m.

Today’s update had the number of confirmed cases of the potentially deadly disease at seven in Oconee County, up from six on Wednesday.

The number of cases in Madison County remained steady at two, according to the DPH, and Jackson and Morgan remained unchanged with one confirmed case each, the DPH said.

The number of cases in Barrow County doubled from two on Wednesday to four today.

The increase was reported after Barrow County Board of Commissioners Chairman Pat Graham Wednesday night signed a Declaration of Local Emergency that enacts certain restrictions on residents and businesses in an attempt to reduce person-to-person contacts that can spread the disease. The restrictions included the closing of all bars and limits gatherings of more than 10 people in public areas and private establishments if such gatherings require people to stand or be seated within six feet of each other. 

The measure, which took effect at noon Thursday, is similar to that which was taken last week by Athens-Clarke County commissioners. They approved an ordinance mandating the closure of all non-essential businesses and banned gatherings of more than 10 people. Athens restaurants are allowed to remain open, but only if they offer delivery or pick-up services.  The ordinance is designed to “flatten the curve” of the spread of the coronavirus by minimizing possible contacts with infected people.

Included in the 16 confirmed Athens-Clarke cases was that of a man who, the DPH reported, 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 noon Thursday, the DPH reported there were 1,525 confirmed cases of COVID-19 statewide, with 48 deaths and 473 people hospitalized with the disease. Those numbers are up from the 1,387 statewide confirmed cases, 38 deaths and 361 hospitalizations reported by the DPH in its Wednesday evening update.

 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.

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