32 coronavirus deaths reported in Georgia in 24 hours

Statewide caseload passes 35,200

Coronavirus testing tubes
Coronavirus testing tubes (AP)

A total of 32 coronavirus-related deaths were reported in a span of 24 hours in Georgia, bringing the statewide death toll 1,493 as of Wednesday afternoon, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

The state Department of Public Health reported at 1 p.m. Wednesday that there were 35,245 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Georgia, an increase of 610 cases since Tuesday afternoon.

Of the six Southeast Georgia counties tracked by News4Jax, Ware County has been hit the hardest, with 167 confirmed COVID-19 cases. In the region, there have been 391 confirmed coronavirus cases and 21 deaths, the latest of which was reported Monday afternoon in Charlton County.

For a full breakdown of all those Southeast Georgia counties, see the table below.

In the state of 10.6 million people, 273,904 have been tested for COVID-19, with 12.9% of tests coming back positive.

On Tuesday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp eased a few restrictions on businesses and child care operations but said he was keeping most current rules until at least the end of May.

The Republican governor reiterated that he believes Georgia is containing the COVID-19 respiratory illness, despite areas of concern. Kemp said he’s most encouraged by low demand for critical care hospital beds since he started loosening restrictions last month.

The number of hospitalized patients fell again Tuesday to 1,125 statewide, the lowest since the state began keeping those statistics on April 8. Meanwhile, the number of ventilators in use ticked up to 884.

Top health experts continue to warn that loosening restrictions too quickly could spark a resurgence of infections. Kemp has captured nationwide attention with his reopening moves because they were among the earliest and most aggressive. He said Tuesday he’s focused on “two battles that we’re fighting right now: One, to stop the spread of COVID-19, and No. 2, the economic battle that we’re in to bring our economy back in our state.”

The governor said Georgia just received 1,200 doses of remdesivir, a drug with promise in alleviating COVID-19. Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey pledged Georgia would have 1,000 contact tracers in place by June 23 to track the spread of the disease and encourage at-risk people to quarantine, up from 250 now.

Kemp spoke just after signing a new executive order that allows restaurants to serve 10 diners per 300 square feet instead of the current 500 square feet, and increased the maximum number of people who can be seated together from six to 10. It also allows summer day camps to begin operating this week subject to restrictions, although overnight camps remain banned for now. The governor allowed the number of children and teachers per room at a child care facility to rise to 20 from the current 10.

Bars, nightclubs and performance venues remain closed for now. Restrictions on other business operations also remain. Kemp said he would decide at the end of the month whether to loosen more restrictions.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and be fatal.

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