Updated: Apr 5, 2020
By Joe Johnson
The coronavirus death toll in Athens has reached eight, according to the state Department of Public Health’s daily noon update on Friday.
The number of people in the greater Athens metro area who have died from COVID-19 -- the disease that is caused by the highly-infectious 2019 novel coronavirus -- tripled over the most recent 24-hour period, from four to 12, according to the DPH.
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Georgia on Friday neared 6,000, with more than 184 deaths, according to the DPH's most recent update.
The DPH updates its coronavirus status report twice daily, at noon and 7 p.m.
At noon Thursday, there were 4,638 confirmed coronavirus cases statewide, a number that increased to 5, 831 as of noon Thursday, according to the DPH.
In that same timeframe, the number of deaths from the virus statewide increased by 21, from 163 to 184, and hospitalizations jumped from 1,056 at noon Thursday to 1,158 as of noon Friday, according to the DPH.
“Today’s significant increase in cases is in part due to additional laboratories reporting to DPH, and also improvements in electronic reporting from other laboratories,” the DPH said. “Patient information is often incomplete and DPH works to complete the records, so data will change over time.”
The number of confirmed cases of the virus on Friday increased over the most recent 24-hour period throughout the DPH’s Northeast Health District that includes Athens-Clarke, Oconee, Jackson, Madison, Barrow, Oglethorpe, Greene, Morgan, Elbert and Walton Counties.
After Athens-Clarke has the most confirmed cases, followed by Barrow, which had 21 cases and two deaths, the DPH said.
The county in the health district with the next most confirmed cases of the deadly disease is Oconee, which increased from 18 cases Thursday afternoon to 19 on Friday, according to the DPH.
Coronavirus cases in Jackson County increased from 11 Tuesday afternoon to 12 as of noon Friday, and Greene County also added another case, bringing its total to nine.
Virus statistics in Madison increased, from four to five, and the number of deaths there remained the same, at one, according to the DPH.
Morgan County remained steady with two confirmed COVID-19 cases and Walton increased from 14 cases Wednesday afternoon to 16 on Friday.
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.
The DPH identified the Athens residents with underlying medical conditions who died from the virus as a males aged 60, 79, and 98, and female patients aged 78 and 79. Two other fatalities were a woman and man, aged 78 and 68, who the DPH did not know if they had underlying medical conditions, and an 89-year-old woman who had no underlying conditions.
The patients in Barrow County who died were a 66-year-old man and a 91-year-old woman, both of whom had underlying medical condition, the DPH said, and the Madison County fatality was a 71-year-old man with pre-existing health conditions.
It was unknown if the 83-year-old man from Oglethorpe County who died from COVID-19 had any underlying medical conditions, according to the DPH.
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, according to the DPH.
The DPH stressed that all Georgians play a critical role in helping to slow the spread of COVID-19 by following the simple rules of social distancing by putting at least 6 feet between yourself and other people; avoiding close contact with people who are sick; and staying at home if you are feeling sick.
To view DPH coronavirus updates visit https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report