Georgia’s coronavirus cases top 15K; death toll increases to 576

A week after Georgia’s confirmed coronavirus cases topped 10,000, the state surpassed 15,000 cases Wednesday night, the Georgia Department of Public Health said.

UPDATE [7 p.m.]: A week after Georgia's confirmed coronavirus cases topped 10,000, the state surpassed 15,000 cases Wednesday night, the Georgia Department of Public Health confirmed.

Since noon, the DPH added 273 new cases to Georgia’s count, bringing the state’s total to 15,260. In addition, 24 deaths were recorded since noon, which brings Georgia’s toll to 576.

Of those with COVID-19 in Georgia, 3,006 patients have been hospitalized at some point, which is about 19.7% of all cases.

Of the 92 counties to report at least one death from COVID-19, Dougherty remained the hardest hit with 84 deaths, followed by Fulton with 63 and Cobb with 44. Hall had the most deaths recorded since noon with four, followed by Gwinnett and Bartow with three each.

Since Tuesday evening, Georgia recorded 52 new deaths.

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

Credit: Georgia Department of Public Health

Credit: Georgia Department of Public Health

More than 64,000 tests have been conducted in Georgia, and about 23.8% of those have returned positive results.

At least 70% of those who have died had a preexisting condition, but the DPH did not know that information for about 27% 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 56.3% of patients had their race listed as unknown.

Of the remaining percentage, about 24.8% were black, 17.3% were white and 0.9% were Asian, according to the latest data. About 3.7% 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 44 victims is known.

About 52% of those who died were black and 38% were white, according to the latest data. Those with Hispanic ethnicity made up 3.5% of the death toll, while Asians comprised 1.4%.

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 1,902 confirmed cases.

Fulton also recorded the most new cases since noon with 58, followed by DeKalb with 34, Gwinnett with 33 and Hall with 28.

Since Tuesday evening, Georgia recorded 682 new cases.

This is what the curve of confirmed coronavirus cases looked like at 7 p.m. Wednesday, 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. Wednesday, there were 1,225 cases in DeKalb, 950 in Cobb, 885 in Gwinnett, 462 in Clayton, 402 in Hall, 328 in Henry, 237 in Bartow, 232 in Cherokee, 201 in Douglas, 157 in Forsyth, 122 in Fayette, 118 in Paulding and 113 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]: Known coronavirus cases in Georgia continued their steady climb Wednesday, with the state now reporting nearly 15,000 cases and 552 deaths.

The state has verified the deaths of 28 more Georgians due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the new virus, since data was last reported Tuesday night. The latest numbers from the Georgia Department of Public Health also show 14,987 confirmed cases, a rise of roughly 3% from the day before.

Since the outbreak began, 2,922 COVID-19 patients have been hospitalized across the state, according to the health department.

» COMPLETE COVERAGE: Coronavirus in Georgia

 

Health officials acknowledge their reporting is lagging as testing capacity increases and deaths are reported by hospitals and local officials around the state. The data does not reflect the severity of the crisis in Georgia in real time, according to Dr. Kathleen Toomey, the state’s public health commissioner.

An analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution showed discrepancies between the state’s figures and those reported by individual long-term care facilities, which have been among the hardest hit by the virus. As of Tuesday, outbreaks have been confirmed by health officials in at least 138 facilities statewide.

» AJC IN-DEPTH: Faulty data obscures virus' impact on Georgia

Of the 552 deaths reported by the health department, the overwhelming majority have been seniors over the age of 60 or those with underlying health conditions.

More than half of Georgia’s 159 counties have verified a death, according to data released Wednesday. Only two, Glascock and Taliaferro, have not confirmed a single case of COVID-19.

Despite consistently ranking within the top 10 counties in Georgia for number of infections, Hall County lasted weeks without a single death. The county reported its first Wednesday, a 75-year-old man. It was not known if he had any underlying health conditions.

Pike, Screven and Quitman counties also reported their first deaths Wednesday. Five more were reported in Dougherty County for a total of 83 deaths, the most in any Georgia county.

Neighboring communities in southwest Georgia, largely rural and poor, have also been hit hard. With 131 confirmed cases, Randolph County logs the highest rate of infections per 100,000 residents among counties in the state, according to officials. Its population is an estimated 6,700.

» RELATED: Coronavirus pandemic hits southwest Georgia county hard

In metro Atlanta, there are now 1,844 cases of the virus in Fulton, 1,191 in DeKalb, 924 in Cobb, 852 in Gwinnett, 456 in Clayton, 374 in Hall, 321 in Henry, 235 in Bartow, 237 in Carroll, 225 in Cherokee, 197 in Douglas, 117 in Paulding, 107 in Rockdale and 104 in Newton.

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

The number of infections in Georgia is expected to rise as more of the public gets access to testing. Officials on Wednesday announced that anyone showing COVID-19 symptoms is now eligible to be tested. Following new protocols outlined Monday by Gov. Brian Kemp, critical workers, including health care workers and first responders, will still be prioritized for testing whether or not they are symptomatic.

Under the new protocols, testing appointments may now be made through local health departments without the referral of a doctor.

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

» MORE: Map tracks coronavirus globally in real time

As of Wednesday, commercial labs have conducted nearly 60,000 tests, and the state’s lab has conducted another 4,000. Cumulatively, an additional 2,295 tests have been performed since Tuesday night, according to officials.

Those who believe they are experiencing symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19 are asked to contact their local health department, 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: 

People connected to the Sheriff?s Office told Channel 2 investigative reporter Nicole Carr that they are angry, so they turned to her for help.

In Other News