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Hospitalizations from virus fall in Georgia; 1,400 dead

After opening following the coronavirus pandemic, Tonya Muckenfuss works on Brandee Anderson's hair at Southern Roots Beauty Shop in Augusta, Ga., Friday, April 24, 2020.
After opening following the coronavirus pandemic, Tonya Muckenfuss works on Brandee Anderson's hair at Southern Roots Beauty Shop in Augusta, Ga., Friday, April 24, 2020. (Michael Holahan © 2020 The Augusta Chroinicle)

ATLANTA – The number of Georgia patients hospitalized due to the coronavirus has fallen to its lowest total in weeks, Gov. Brian Kemp said Saturday as the state’s death toll from COVID-19 reached at least 1,400.

Kemp tweeted Saturday morning that 1,203 patients were currently hospitalized, the lowest number since the state started reporting the figure on April 8.

He also noted that Saturday’s total of 897 ventilators in use across the state was the lowest number since early April.

“We will win this fight together!” the Republican governor tweeted.

As of Saturday afternoon, the Department of Public Health said there were more than 32,500 confirmed cases of the virus in the state — an increase of more than 360 since Friday. The number of deaths had risen by 44.

Kemp has said the public health state of emergency and the shelter in place for the elderly and medically-fragile remains in effect through June 12. Georgia began to reopen some businesses on April 24, while others followed a few days later.

The Athens Farmers Market was among those to reopen its doors Saturday. Organizers said extensive precautions were put in place beforehand. Only 50 people were allowed inside at a time and customers were asked to wash or sanitize their hands before entering, to wear masks at all times and to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet.

Meanwhile in Richmond County, Sheriff Richard Roundtree has tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. Roundtree received notification of the positive test result Friday, the sheriff’s office said in a news release. He was tested Wednesday to encourage residents in the county to get tested.

According to the sheriff’s office, Roundtree is symptom-free. Still, he has self-quarantined at his home, where he will remain until it is deemed safe for him to return to the office, The Augusta Chronicle reported.

Efforts are being made to arrange testing for all employees of the sheriff’s administration building as well as any other employees who may have had contact with the sheriff.

“The Sheriff remains dedicated to his service to the citizens of Richmond County and asks the public to continue to practice social distancing as well as the other guidelines set forth by the CDC,” the statement reads.