By Joe Johnson
Athens has recorded its first coronavirus-related death, the Georgia Department of Health announced Tuesday morning.
“The Northeast Health District is confirming the first death from COVID-19 in Clarke County,” the announcement stated.
“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 health district’s statement said.
It was unclear if the man was included in the 16 confirmed cases in Athens that were reported by the DPH at noon on Tuesday.
The Northeast Health District comprises Athens-Clarke, Jackson, Madison, Oconee, Oglethorpe, Elbert, Walton, Greene, Morgan and Barrow counties.
Also as of Monday afternoon, the DPH reported there were 1,026 confirmed cases of COVID-19 statewide, with 32 deaths.
Athens-Clarke had the most, with 16 confirmed cases, Oconee increased to five cases from three Monday evening, and Barrow and Madison each had one confirmed case of the highly-infectious virus.
The numbers are expected to increase when the DPH next updates its statistics at 7 p.m. today.
As of Monday afternoon, the results of more than 5,400 COVID-19 tests were pending, 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.
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.