13 more coronavirus deaths brings Georgia’s toll to 176; cases reach 5,444

UPDATE [7 p.m.]: Georgia recorded 13 more coronavirus deaths since noon Thursday, bringing the state's death toll to 176, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

The DPH also confirmed 96 more cases of COVID-19, which brings the state’s total to 5,444. Of those, 1,129 patients are hospitalized, which is about 20.7% of all cases.

Dougherty County has suffered the most deaths with 30, followed by Fulton with 23 and Cobb with 17.

Nearly 23,000 tests have been conducted across the state, and about 23.7% have returned positive results.

At least 64.8% of those who died had preexisting conditions, and only 31 were under the age of 60, according to the latest update. The youngest victim in Georgia was a 29-year-old Peach County woman while the oldest was a 96-year-old woman from Bibb County.

Telfair County reported its first two positive cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, according to the DPH. That increases the number of counties affected to 143, leaving just 16 counties without a confirmed case.

Health officials also confirmed coronavirus outbreaks at 58 senior care facilities across the state.

» RELATED: Coronavirus cases now reported at 58 Georgia senior care facilities

Fulton County saw the largest increase on Thursday with 35 new cases, followed by Gwinnett with 21 and Clayton with 17. Fulton still has the most cases in the state with 747, according to the latest data.

As of 7 p.m., there were 409 cases in DeKalb, 341 in Cobb, 303 in Gwinnett, 165 in Clayton, 153 in Bartow, 115 in Henry, 94 in Cherokee, 72 in Hall, 66 in Douglas, 57 in Rockdale, 55 in Fayette, 53 in Forsyth, 37 in Newton and 35 in Paulding.

Patients between the ages of 18 and 59 make up the majority of cases at 59%, while those 60 and older make up 36%. The DPH does not release compiled date on how many patients have recovered.

For the full update, click here.

— Please return to AJC.com for updates.

ORIGINAL STORY [noon]: Georgia's coronavirus cases surpassed 5,000 Thursday, and the number of deaths across the state continues to grow.

The latest data from the Georgia Department of Public Health shows 5,348 confirmed cases, an increase of about 13% from the 4,748 cases reported Wednesday night. Nine more Georgians have died as a result of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, bringing the state's death toll to 163.

Additional growth is expected when the Department of Public Health releases its next update at 7 p.m.

» COMPLETE COVERAGE: Coronavirus in Georgia

Commercial and state laboratories conducted 2,629 new tests since Wednesday night. Of those who have tested positive since the outbreak began, 1,056 are hospitalized Thursday, according to the health department.

Amid predictions of a steep increase in cases and with plans in place to increase daily testing capacity, officials say those numbers could balloon in the coming weeks. Scientific projections suggest the state will see thousands of new cases and hundreds of additional deaths before the virus is contained.

» AJC IN-DEPTH: In reversal, Kemp imposes tough limits amid dire new COVID projections

Facing such grim outcomes, Gov. Brian Kemp announced Wednesday that he would issue a statewide stay-at-home order. The order will be in force from Friday through at least April 13.

» PHOTOS:  Metro Atlanta adjusts to shifts in daily life amid coronavirus crisis

It would require Georgians to remain in their homes for all but essential activities, which would include buying food, seeking medical care, working in critical jobs or exercising outdoors.

Kemp has also ordered the closure of all public schools through the end of the academic year.

» MORE: Georgia governor to order shelter in place to curb coronavirus

For most, COVID-19 causes only mild or moderate symptoms. Older adults and those with existing health problems are at risk of more severe illnesses, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover in a matter of weeks.

As the figures stood Thursday, the virus has impacted all but 17 of Georgia’s 159 counties.

In metro Atlanta, there are now 712 cases of the virus in Fulton, 396 in DeKalb, 329 in Cobb, 282 in Gwinnett, 148 in Clayton, 147 in Bartow, 133 in Carroll, 108 in Henry, 92 in Cherokee, 72 in Hall, 60 in Douglas, 54 in Rockdale, 36 in Newton and 33 in Paulding.

Fulton County reported the largest increase Thursday with 74 new cases and two new deaths. A total of 22 people have died in Fulton, less than the 29 who have died in Dougherty County. No new deaths were reported Thursday in Dougherty, which is home to Albany and has become the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis in Georgia. The southwest Georgia county confirmed 17 new cases since Wednesday night, bringing its total to 507.

McDuffie, Oglethorpe and Richmond counties each reported their first deaths Thursday. The other new deaths came from Cobb, DeKalb and Douglas counties.

Of the deaths statewide, about 61% had underlying conditions and 76% were age 60 or older, according to health officials. More men than women have died of COVID-19.

» DASHBOARD: Real-time stats and charts tracking coronavirus in Georgia

» MORE: Map tracks coronavirus globally in real time

Those who believe they are experiencing symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19 are asked to contact their primary care doctor or an urgent care clinic. Do not show up unannounced at an emergency room or health care facility.

Georgians can also call the state COVID-19 hotline at 844-442-2681 to share public health information and connect with medical professionals.

— Please return to AJC.com for updates.

In other news:

Neighbors in Dunwoody have posted ?Everything will be OK? signs in their yards over the past few weeks.