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Coronavirus cases spike in Georgia, remain relatively the same in Athens metro area

The number of confirmed cases of the novel 2019 coronavirus (COVID-19) in Georgia increased from significantly overnight.

As of noon Wednesday there were 4,638 cases, up 481 from 7 p.m. Tuesday, when there were 4,117 cases, according to the Georgia Department of Health.

In that same timeframe, the number of deaths from the virus increased by 14, from 125 to 139, and hospitalizations went from 885 Tuesday evening to 952 Wednesday afternoon, an increase of 67.

Th The DPH updates its coronavirus status report twice daily, at noon and 7 p.m. The novel 2019 coronavirus causes the deadly COVID-19 disease. The reports track the spread of the deadly disease that has shut down schools and businesses and people sheltering in place at their homes nationwide.

 “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 highly-infectious virus remained relatively steady overnight in the DPH’s Northeast Health District that includes Athens-Clarke, Oconee, Jackson, Madison, Barrow, Oglethorpe, Greene, Morgan, Elbert and Walton Counties.

From 7 p.m. Tuesday to noon Wednesday, Athens-Clarke remained the same with 51 confirmed cases of the virus and five deaths, according to the DPH.

Barrow County has the next most cases, increasing from 19 Tuesday evening to 20 on Wednesday afternoon. The number of deaths in the county remained the same, at two, the DPH said.

The county in the health district with the next most confirmed cases of the deadly disease is Oconee, which increased from 16 cases Tuesday evening to 17 Wednesday afternoon, according to the DPH.

Coronavirus cases in Jackson County increased from eight Tuesday evening to nine Wednesday afternoon, and Greene County went from seven to eight cases in that same timeframe, the DPH said.

Virus statistics remained the same in Madison, with three cases and one death, and also in Morgan and Oglethorpe counties, with two cases and one case, respectively.

The Northeast Health District county with the most significant increase was Walton, which went from having no cases Tuesday evening to 12 as of Wednesday afternoon, 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.

The DPH identified the Athens residents who died as a 60-year-old man, a 79-year-old man and a pair of 78-year-old women, all of whom 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 conditions, the DPH said, and the Madison County fatality was a 71-year-old man with underlying health conditions.

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 practicing 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.

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