Georgia has given up the dubious title of being the state where COVID-19 is spreading the fastest.
Georgia has been overtaken by Mississippi as the No. 1 state with the highest number of new cases per 100,000 people, according to a 14-day average kept by The Associated Press. The coronavirus is still spreading rapidly in the Peach State compared to other places, though, with 355 new infections per 100,000 people over the 14 days ended Sunday. More than half the states have a transmission rate that’s less than half that level.
On Tuesday, the Department of Public Health reported 2,101 new cases of COVID-19 and 106 deaths.
Georgia’s transmission rate and its overall case count have been falling throughout August. The seven-day average of cases is down more than a third from its high in late July. Total confirmed infections rose above 258,354 on Tuesday. Deaths from the summer spike continue to be reported at a high rate, with confirmed fatalities now totaling 5,262.
One place where the virus is still spreading fast is at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville. Officials there reported 150 additional confirmed infections over the weekend and on Monday. Baldwin County commissioners on Monday voted 3-2 to mandate masks in public places, after rejecting the move on a 3-2 vote Friday. The city of Milledgeville approved an emergency mask rule Friday.
In a number of Georgia school systems learning remotely on Monday, instruction was disrupted by outages on the Zoom videoconferencing platform.
State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler announced Monday that Georgia was among states approved by President Donald Trump’s administration where people drawing unemployment benefits would receive up to $300 a week in extra federal money, a stopgap after a $600-a-week payment approved by Congress expired at the end of the July. The new payments would be retroactive back to Aug. 1, but Trump is using federal disaster money to pay it, meaning it’s only expected to last for a few weeks. Workers have to be eligible for at least $100 a week in other unemployment benefits to be eligible, meaning some people who had little income before being laid off will miss out.
Kersha Cartwright, a spokesperson for the department, said claimaints could start getting the money in three to four weeks. More than 600,000 Georgians were drawing unemployment benefits, according to the most recent numbers.
Georgia’s Department of Public Health warned over the weekend against drinking diluted chlorine dioxide, an industrial bleach-like agent, in an attempt to treat COVID-19. The products, sold under names including MSS, Miracle Mineral Solution, Master Mineral Solution, Water Purification Solution, CDS and Aqueous Chlorine Dioxide, have been falsely promoted for years as a way to cure various diseases.
However, state health officials warn that consuming them could lead to severe illness or death including respiratory failure, fatal abnormal heart rhythms, life-threatening low blood pressure caused by dehydration, acute liver failure, severe vomiting and severe diarrhea.
Department of Public Health spokesperson Nancy Nydam said officials aren’t aware that anyone in Georgia has drunk the chemicals, but said officials were concerned about reports that people were hearing about it online in Hispanic communities.
“We wanted to get the warning out to prevent any potential misuse of this powerful disinfectant,” Nydam wrote Monday in an email.
Anyone who may have ingested chlorine dioxide should call the Georgia Poison Center Hotline at 1-800-222-1222.
Trump earlier this year drew scorn after he suggested injecting bleach might be a cure for COVID-19. Afterward, the state poison center reported two people in Georgia drank liquid cleaning products.