Georgia’s coronavirus death toll nears 1,000 as restaurants, theaters allowed to reopen

Of those testing positive for COVID-19 in Southeast Georgia, more than 25% hospitalized

Plastic bags mark off seats to promote social distancing at a Waffle House restaurant in Savannah, Ga., on Monday, April 27, 2020. Restaurants statewide have been allowed to resume dine-in service with restrictions after a month of being limited to takeout meals only because of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Russ Bynum) (Russ Bynum, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Georgia’s coronavirus death toll neared 1,000 on Monday when the state’s restaurants were allowed to resume limited dine-in service and movie theaters were allowed to reopen under Gov. Brian Kemp’s order to restart some businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Seventy-eight new coronavirus-related deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, bringing the statewide death toll to 994 as of about 6:30 p.m. Monday, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

On Monday evening, confirmed COVID-19 cases in Georgia reached 24,218, up 737 cases since Sunday night, the state Department of Public Health said.

Of those testing positive for COVID-19 in Georgia, 4,744 (19.6%) have been hospitalized while 1,071 (4.4%) have been admitted to the intensive care unit, according to state health data.

The state Department of Public Health on Monday night began releasing the number COVID-19 hospitalizations per county. Of the 276 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the Southeast Georgia counties tracked by News4Jax, 71 (25.7%) have been hospitalized.

In that region, 14 deaths have been previously been reported.

Ware County continues to be the hardest hit in Southeast Georgia, reaching 112 confirmed cases with eight deaths and 36 hospitalizations. Pierce County has the second-highest number of confirmed cases in the region (54), two deaths and 15 hospitalizations.

In Glynn County, 51 cases have been reported with one death and 11 hospitalizations. Camden County has 30 confirmed cases, one death and six hospitalizations. In Brantley County, 21 cases have been confirmed with two deaths and one hospitalization. And Charlton County has eight cases and two hospitalized patients.

On Monday, some Georgia restaurants reopened for limited dine-in service as the state loosened more coronavirus restrictions, but many eateries remained closed amid concerns that serving in-house meals could put staff and customers at risk.

The dine-in service and movie screenings resumed after other businesses, including barbershops, gyms, tattoo shops and nail salons, were allowed to start seeing customers Friday. While many gratefully opened their doors after a monthlong closure, others did not feel ready yet and stayed closed. A similar mixed response played out Monday.

Kemp issued 39 requirements that restaurants must follow if they reopen, including observing a limit of 10 customers per 500 square feet and ensuring that all employees wear face coverings all the time. Movie theater ushers were ordered to enforce social distancing.

The governor, speaking Monday to reporters, said he hasn’t decided how he’ll replace the state’s shelter-in-place order, which expires after Thursday, even as his public health chief acknowledged Georgia had moved forward without meeting all the criteria laid out by President Donald Trump’s administration.

Kemp also talked about the growth in testing, which is up to 127,169 people -- up 67% from last week alone.

For most people, the coronavirus behind the pandemic causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, it can cause severe illness such as pneumonia, or even death.

About the Author:

Jacksonville native and proud University of Florida graduate who joined News4JAX in 2016.