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Athens has second coronavirus death; Barrow county records its first

By Joe Johnson

There has been a second coronavirus-related death in Athens-Clarke County and one death from the disease was reported in Barrow County, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

The deaths were reported in the DPH’s daily evening statewide status report of the highly-infectious and potentially deadly disease that is also known as COVID-19.

The DPH updates twice daily, at noon and 7 p.m.

According to the evening report, there were 34 confirmed coronavirus cases in Athens, as opposed to 32 at noon. There were 29 confirmed cases of the disease in Athens in the DPH’s Thursday evening update, and 21 on Wednesday afternoon, according to the DPH.

Athens-Clarke is one of 10 counties in DPH’s Northeast Health District.

The county in the health district with the next most confirmed cases of the deadly disease is Oconee, which increased from seven cases Thursday to 10 Friday afternoon. There were no additional cases, according to the Friday evening update.

Barrow County has the next most cases, increasing from five Thursday evening to seven at 7 in Friday’s 7 p.m. update, which also noted that the county had experienced its first coronavirus death.

The number of cases in Madison and Jackson counties held firm from Thursday to Friday evening, with three and two cases, respectively, according to the DPH.

Greene and Morgan counties cases of coronavirus remained unchanged from Friday afternoon, with each having one case, according to the DPH.

 Elbert, Walton and Oglethorpe continued to have no confirmed cases of coronavirus, the DPH said.

Effective noon Thursday, Barrow became the second county in the health district to declare a local state of emergency, enacting 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 limiting 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 is similar to that which was taken last week by Athens-Clarke County commissioners. They unanimously 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.

Also as of 7 p.m. Friday, the DPH reported there were 2,198 confirmed cases of the coronavirus statewide, up from 2,001 cases Friday afternoon.

In that same timeframe, the number of coronavirus-related deaths statewide rose from 64 to 65, and virus-related hospitalizations increased from 566 to 607, according to the DPH.

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, according to the DPH. 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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