Coronavirus death toll rises to 524 in Georgia; cases reach 14,578

Hours after Georgia surpassed the bleak milestone of 500 coronavirus-related deaths, the state added 23 more to its toll.

UPDATE [7 p.m.]: Hours after Georgia surpassed the bleak milestone of 500 coronavirus-related deaths, the state added 23 more to its toll.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak entered Georgia, the state has suffered 524 deaths due to the virus, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

The DPH also announced 355 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 since noon, bringing the state’s total to 14,578. Of those, 2,858 patients have been hospitalized at some point, which is 19.6% of all cases.

Of the 88 counties to report at least one death from COVID-19, Dougherty remained the hardest hit with 78, followed by Fulton with 60 and Cobb with 41. Mitchell had the most deaths recorded since noon with four, followed by Fulton and Gwinnett with three each.

Since Monday evening, Georgia recorded 44 new deaths.

This is what the curve of coronavirus-related deaths looked like at 7 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health's data.
This is what the curve of coronavirus-related deaths looked like at 7 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health's data.

Credit: Georgia Department of Public Health

Credit: Georgia Department of Public Health

Nearly 62,000 tests have been conducted in Georgia, and about 23.6% of those have returned positive results.

The DPH also announced Tuesday evening that it is expanding its coronavirus testing criteria at the drive-through sites operated by the Northeast Health District. Tests will primarily be given to healthcare workers, first responders, people 65 or older and those in long-term care facilities who show symptoms of COVID-19. People who live or care for any of the aforementioned groups will also be prioritized.

People who have COVID-19 symptoms but are not a part of those groups will be the next testing priority, followed by healthcare workers, first responders and long-term care residents who do not show symptoms. The latter groups will be tested depending on the state’s capacity, the DPH said.

At least 70% of those who have died had a preexisting condition, but the DPH did not know that information for about 26% of the victims. Only 19 were confirmed to not have another condition that could have contributed to their death aside from COVID-19.

The DPH also releases compiled data of the race and ethnicity of patients, but nearly 58.7% of patients had their race listed as unknown.

Of the remaining percentage, about 23.5% were black, 16.7% were white and 0.8% were Asian, according to the latest data. About 3.5% of patients were listed as having Hispanic or Latino ethnicity.

The DPH recently expanded the race and ethnicity data to include those who died from the virus. The information for all but 45 victims is known.

About 52% of those who died were black while 25% were white, according to the latest data. Those with Hispanic ethnicity made up 2.9% of the death toll, while Asians comprised 1.5%.

Only two counties, Glascock and Taliaferro, have not recorded their first case, according to the DPH. The remaining 157 counties in Georgia have at least one, with Fulton topping the list with 1,812 confirmed cases.

DeKalb County recorded the most new cases since noon with 72, followed by Fulton with 38 and Hall with 24.

Since Monday evening, Georgia recorded 957 new cases.

This is what the curve of confirmed coronavirus cases looked like at 7 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health's data.
This is what the curve of confirmed coronavirus cases looked like at 7 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health's data.

Credit: Georgia Department of Public Health

Credit: Georgia Department of Public Health

As of 7 p.m. Tuesday, there were 1,144 cases in DeKalb, 895 in Cobb, 815 in Gwinnett, 435 in Clayton, 363 in Hall, 306 in Henry, 230 in Bartow, 219 in Cherokee, 189 in Douglas, 153 in Forsyth, 115 each in Fayette and Paulding, 106 in Rockdale and 100 in Newton.

Patients between the ages of 18 and 59 make up the majority of cases at 60%, while those 60 and older make up 35% of cases. The DPH does not release compiled data on how many patients have recovered.

For the full update, click here.

ORIGINAL STORY [noon]: Georgia's coronavirus infections now number more than 14,000 as the state recorded its 500th death Tuesday.

The latest data from the Georgia Department of Public Health shows 14,223 confirmed cases statewide. Since Monday night, 21 more Georgians have died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new virus, bringing the state's toll to 501.

» COMPLETE COVERAGE: Coronavirus in Georgia

The worst may be yet to come. The number of critically ill patients is expected to surge in coming days, reaching the peak demand on health care resources by May 1. By May 3, projections show deaths in Georgia will reach their peak.

Since the outbreak began, 2,759 patients have been hospitalized across the state, including 67 more since Monday night. At a news conference Monday, Gov. Brian Kemp said preparations are being made at the Georgia World Congress Center in downtown Atlanta to set up hundreds of beds to ease the strain on local hospitals.

» AJC IN-DEPTH: Race is on to prepare Georgia hospitals for COVID-19 peak

Kemp also announced plans Monday to make more Georgians eligible for COVID-19 testing. The state had been rationing its limited supplies to those most vulnerable of developing critical cases amid a nationwide shortage of testing kits.

Kemp’s new relaxed protocols would allow workers in critical infrastructure jobs who display symptoms to be tested, as well as people without symptoms who have come into contact with an infected person. Testing appointments may now be made through local health departments without the referral of a doctor.

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

As of Tuesday, commercial labs have conducted nearly 58,000 tests, and the state’s lab has conducted just under 4,000. Cumulatively, more than 4,700 additional tests have been performed in the past 24 hours.

MORE: DeKalb releases 103 inmates from jail; window dressing, critics say

Only two of Georgia’s 159 counties, Glascock and Taliaferro, have not confirmed a single case of COVID-19. More than half of the state has verified a death. Lanier County reported its first death Tuesday.

 

Additional deaths were also reported Tuesday in Fulton, Carroll, Cobb, Gwinnett, Houston, Lowndes, Mitchell, Richmond, Sumter and Terrell counties. Four deaths included in Tuesday’s data were non-Georgia residents.

The 501 victims statewide range in age from 29 to 100, although about 84% were over the age of 60. The majority had overwhelming health conditions, and most were men.

The outbreak remains deadliest for Dougherty County in southwest Georgia, where the virus is spreading rapidly. The county had confirmed 1,286 cases and 78 deaths as of Tuesday, according to state health officials. Only Fulton County has more known infections with 1,774 cases.

Other metro Atlanta counties are not far behind. There are now 1,067 cases of the virus in DeKalb, 874 in Cobb, 794 in Gwinnett, 427 in Clayton, 339 in Hall, 302 in Henry, 224 in Bartow, 214 in Carroll, 211 in Cherokee, 184 in Douglas, 108 in Paulding, 104 in Rockdale and 95 in Newton.

» 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.

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