3rd Georgian positive for coronavirus after twice being denied testing

State’s Department of Public Health awaits confirmation from CDC

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ATLANTA – A woman who went to a Rome, Georgia, emergency center with flu-like symptoms late last month has tested positive for COVID-19 by the state health lab, officials said Friday. She is the third person in the state to test positive, although her diagnosis has to be confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The 46-year-old woman went to the emergency care center in Northwest Georgia, on Feb. 29, but didn’t meet testing criteria for COVID-19 and was released, Floyd Medical Center said in a statement. She returned, with worsening symptoms, on Tuesday. But she still didn’t quality for testing.

“Despite the patient, again, not meeting COVID-19 screening criteria, Floyd clinicians made the determination to admit her to the hospital due to her condition,” the hospital statement said.

For a time, testing was limited, in part because CDC guidelines said it should be focused on travelers who had been to mainland China or to patients who had been in close contact with infected people. Last week, the CDC changed its criteria, saying it’s also appropriate to test a patient if flu and other respiratory illnesses have been ruled out and no source of exposure has been identified.

The patient was isolated, officials said. Though she still didn’t meet the criteria for coronavirus testing, her doctor and the district health director for the region pushed for it, the hospital said.

At the “adamant urging” of the two local health officials, the CDC and the state health agency authorized the testing. The initial testing that returned a positive result was completed Thursday, state health officials said.

“The CDC has not confirmed initial test results for this patient," Gov. Brian Kemp said in a statement. “DPH officials have requested expedited processing for an official determination.”

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Officials haven’t disclosed where the woman went or who she might have been in contact with in the three days between her two visits to the emergency room. However, state health officials are now working to identify any people who might have been exposed, the agency said in statement.

Floyd County is on the Georgia/Alabama border about 70 miles northwest of Atlanta.

If confirmed, it would be the third case of COVID-19 in Georgia. The state’s first case was a 56-year-old Fulton County man who had traveled to Atlanta from Milan, Italy on Feb. 22. He began showing symptoms of the disease a few days later, health officials said earlier this week. The man’s teenage son also tested positive for the disease.

Kemp announced Monday that two people who lived together in Fulton County had tested positive for COVID-19, and one of them had recently returned from a trip to Italy. Those were confirmed by the CDC and both were isolated at home to keep the illness from spreading, Kemp said.