A look at major coronavirus developments over the past week

Health officials have sounded the alarm that the number of new COVID-19 cases in Georgia likely will continue rising as cooler weather sets in and social gatherings ramp up during the holiday season.

Georgia has surpassed 8,000 COVID-19 deaths this year, according to the latest figures from the state Department of Public Health.

On Oct. 30, U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-Ga., disclosed he was infected with the virus, prompting Gov. Brian Kemp to self-quarantine because the two Republican politicians had been together at an indoor rally.

Here’s a look at other major developments related to COVID-19 over the past week.

Francisco Salas bundles up and wears a face covering for work at a recent morning at the Norfolk Southern construction site in downtown Atlanta.


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Georgia’s uptick concerning

According to the latest report from President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force, Georgia ranks 39th in the nation in new cases and 26th highest in test positivity.

The number of new coronavirus cases has been rising over the past several days. But, for now, cases in Georgia remain well below the summer surge that strained the state’s health care infrastructure and led to thousands of deaths. Georgia’s current rate of spread also is not as severe as the outbreaks seen in the West, Upper Midwest and Northwest, or in Georgia’s neighboring states.

Still, the White House task force warned Georgia officials of continued spread of the coronavirus —particularly from private social gatherings. “Georgia must expand mitigation in the counties with rising cases and hospitalizations,” a statement from the task force said. This includes social distancing, hand washing, mask use and getting a flu shot.

The report also said about nine out of 10 hospitals reported having three days' or fewer supply of N95 masks, surgical gowns and gloves.

An analysis of more than 400,000 women who are between 15 and 44 years old and diagnosed with COVID-19 revealed that those who were pregnant had a 70% increased risk of dying compared to those who were not, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Dreamstime/TNS)

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CDC study: pregnant women face increased risk

An analysis of more than 400,000 women diagnosed with COVID-19 revealed that those who were pregnant had an increased risk of dying compared to those who were not, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Invasive ventilation and intensive care unit admission were more common among pregnant than nonpregnant women with COVID-19. ECMO — extracorporeal membrane oxygenation — also was more likely. That’s a procedure that removes blood from your body, runs it through a machine that clears it of carbon dioxide and inserts oxygen-rich blood back into the body.

Pregnant women with COVID-19 have a 70% increased risk of dying. Among them, those who are 35 to 44 years old were nearly four times as likely to require invasive ventilation.

Researchers say these numbers could be explained by physiologic changes that occur during pregnancy, such as increased heart rate, higher oxygen consumption, decreased lung capacity, increased risk of blood clot formation and weakened immune systems.

And, although Black women made up just 14% of the women included in the analysis, they made up about 27% of deaths among those who were pregnant and about 37% of deaths among those who were not pregnant. Meanwhile, Asian and Native Hawaiian/Pacific pregnant women were of particularly increased risk for ICU admission.

“When going out or interacting with others, pregnant women should wear a mask, social distance, avoid persons who are not wearing a mask and frequently wash their hands. In addition, pregnant women should take measures to ensure their general health, including staying up to date with annual influenza vaccination and prenatal care,” the report said.

From left, poll workers Beth Claimo, Teresa Johnson and Karin Mueller wear masks and wait on voters to approach their table at Butler Street Baptist Church at 315 Ralph McGill Boulevard NE in Atlanta, Georgia on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. (John Spink/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

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Pandemic and election add to stress

Bleary-eyed and weary, Georgia supporters of both presidential candidates have spent days monitoring minute-by-minute tallies of battleground states.

With people already on edge and stressed by the pandemic, observers say the uncertainty of the presidential election can make a difficult situation even worse.

“With COVID-19, there is fear about who is going to get it, who is at risk, who might die from it? There’s all this fear and anxiety,” said Alyza Berman, an Atlanta psychotherapist. “And when you add the presidential election, 2020 is the year of catastrophe, anxiety and fear of the unknown.”

Berman, who has clients across the political spectrum, said people are universally feeling uneasy about the days, weeks, months ahead.

Tips for coping with election stress, from Berman and other therapists, include the following: Try to get regular exercise, a good night’s sleep and limit time spent watching — and even talking about — the news. Berman recommends friends and families set boundaries and spend time together — without talking about politics.

Staff writers Nedra Rhone and J. Scott Trubey and the Tribune News Service contributed to this article.