Has Georgia seen its Summer peak of COVID-19?

Day after Glynn County recorded 5 deaths, case counts seem to have flattened

A person is tested for the COVID-19 Coronavirus last week. (AP/file) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

After the number of daily cases of coronavirus in Georgia trended sharply upwards for six weeks -- from an average under 800 per day in early June to over 3,500 per day last week -- the moving average has been relatively flat since the third week of August. While that trend is less clear in the number of COVID-19 deaths, the Georgia Department of Public Health reported only two on Monday.

The sharp drop in fatalities from the virus comes one day after five deaths were reported in Gynn County alone, bringing that county’s total to 34. Nearly 25% of the 34 deaths in Glynn County have been patients younger than 60 years old. Of the eight patients age 58 and younger who have died related to coronavirus in the county, only two had a known underlying condition.

Monday’s GPHD report added 2,258 cases statewide, including 59 additional cases in our Southeast Georgia counties.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the highly contagious virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.

As of Sunday, the total number of hospitalizations statewide stood at 19,124 -- 60 of which were reported in the last 24 hours. The state admits the total number of hospitalizations is likely an underestimation since it only counted if it was at the time the case was reported to DPH. The number also does not represent the number of people currently hospitalized.

More than 1.62 million people had been tested in the state, which had an 11% positivity rate, as of Monday.

On Friday, Gov. Brian Kemp signed two executive orders extending the state of emergency in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak. One order extends Georgia’s public health emergency through Sept. 10. The other order extends existing requirements on social distancing, bans on gatherings of more than 50 people unless there is six feet between each person and other rules about operating businesses and nonprofit groups through August 15. However, the order also makes more than a dozen new claims about Kemp’s executive authority, citing state law and the state constitution, which may be aimed at bolstering his lawsuit against Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the Atlanta City Council.

“The General Assembly has entrusted the authority to declare a state of emergency to the governor and vested him with the sole power to direct and manage the statewide response to any such emergency,” Kemp’s new language reads in part.

Atlanta and other local governments argue they are allowed to order people to wear masks in public and impose other restrictions, but Kemp argues they are not. An emergency hearing on Kemp’s lawsuit was scheduled this week but Kemp dropped the request.

In the meantime, local governments continue to impose new restrictions. Chatham County County Commission Chairman Al Scott on Friday imposed a mask order, in direct contravention of Kemp’s position. The Athens-Clarke Commission imposed new closing times on bars and ordered masks inside them on Thursday and was sued on Friday by bar owners who claim the commission illegally exceeds Kemp’s orders.