A look at major COVID-19 developments over the past week

Glenda Bailey, a Miller County resident who was sick with COVID-19, expresses her thanks to Dr. Bill Swofford (left) as she is assisted by medical staff Carmen Lambert and Jamie Middleton (right) at Miller County Hospital in Colquitt. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
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Glenda Bailey, a Miller County resident who was sick with COVID-19, expresses her thanks to Dr. Bill Swofford (left) as she is assisted by medical staff Carmen Lambert and Jamie Middleton (right) at Miller County Hospital in Colquitt. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Seven-day rolling averages for daily new coronavirus cases have been ticking upward in Georgia.

While the state has made significant progress since the surge in new COVID-19 cases over the summer, officials are concerned about the increasing number lately. Experts are urging Georgians to do their part to contain the virus by wearing face masks in public, practicing social distancing of at least 6 feet, and making sure their hands are clean.

“Unfortunately, we will likely see several cases throughout the winter, and we need to be prepared — in the health care settings but, most importantly, in our communities,” Dr. Aneesh Mehta, associate professor of infectious diseases at the Emory University School of Medicine said Friday. "We need to continue to do all the great preventive things we have been doing.”

Here’s a look at major coronavirus developments over the past week.

A sign says it all to passing motorists at Murphey Candler Elementary School at 6775 S Goddard Road in DeKalb County. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM
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A sign says it all to passing motorists at Murphey Candler Elementary School at 6775 S Goddard Road in DeKalb County. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

ExploreCORONAVIRUS IN GEORGIA/COMPLETE COVERAGE

DeKalb County Schools announces plans to stick to online classes

Leaders of DeKalb County Public Schools said the district will continue operating virtually because COVID-19 cases are not dropping enough for students to safely return to classrooms.

The district’s plan calls for offering in-person classes a few days a week if infection rates if DeKalb County drop below 100 infections per 100,000 people for 14 straight days.

DeKalb came close to that threshold, with several days below the benchmark in early October, but the numbers have increased in recent days.

School districts in Cobb, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett and Henry counties have brought or plan to bring back students to classrooms. But Atlanta Public Schools, City Schools of Decatur and Clayton County are sticking with virtual learning for now.

Nurse Stella Eziashi-Anaheim (right), clinical supervisor for North DeKalb Health Center, and nurse Shelia Alexander (left) prepare flu shots during a drive-thru flu clinic at the North DeKalb Health Center in Chamblee.  (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)
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Nurse Stella Eziashi-Anaheim (right), clinical supervisor for North DeKalb Health Center, and nurse Shelia Alexander (left) prepare flu shots during a drive-thru flu clinic at the North DeKalb Health Center in Chamblee. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

High-dose flu vaccine in limited supply in Georgia

Some health care providers across Georgia and the rest of the country already are running low on the high-dose flu vaccine recommended for older Americans as many in the public heed warnings about the dangers of contracting the flu and COVID-19 at the same time.

Public health officials have said it’s more important than ever to get the flu shot this year, with the pandemic still raging, because contracting both viruses could pose a grave risk to a person’s health. Also, officials worry that a “twindemic” could overwhelm the health care system.

Many have listened to those warnings, causing supplies of the high-dose flu vaccine to dwindle. For right now, that’s more of an inconvenience than a crisis. Supplies are expected to be replenished and keep up with demand.

People may have to call around to find it, but experts stress a standard vaccine is still better than no vaccine at all.

ExploreREAD MORE ABOUT LIMITED SUPPLY OF HIGH-DOSE FLU VACCINE
Atlanta saw a surge of buyer interest in homes at the start of the year and the signing of many contracts. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)
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Atlanta saw a surge of buyer interest in homes at the start of the year and the signing of many contracts. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

Home prices leap on scarce listings

Metro Atlanta home prices rose again last month, continuing a steady increase that has only accelerated during the pandemic, according to a report Wednesday from Re/Max.

The median price of a home sold in the region last month was $289,900 — up 15% from the same month a year ago. Buyers continue to look for homes, despite the pandemic and the economic woes it has brought.

Halloween celebrations will require creativity, precautions

Across metro Atlanta, communities have been planning for more low-key Halloween celebrations — if they happen at all.

Everyone is facing the same looming question: How can you safely celebrate the holiday during a pandemic? Is trick-or-treating even an option, or should children skip the tradition this year?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued guidelines on how to safely celebrate Halloween. Traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating activities, along with crowded indoor costume parties, are not recommended.

Even so, doctors and public health experts agree that, yes, families can still celebrate the holiday, gather with friends, and even go trick-or-treating, but they must take precautions and modify traditions.

Experts recommend the following: Keep the celebrations small and outdoors; modify trick-or-treating to keep it small and practice social distancing; avoid high-risk activities like crowded haunted houses. And, regardless of your activity, stick with basic safety principles: wear masks, practice social distancing of at least 6 feet, and make sure your hands — and your children’s hands — are clean.

Staff writers Leon Stafford, Michael E. Kanell and Tim Darnell contributed to this article.