8 new coronavirus deaths brings Georgia’s toll to 56; 1,643 total cases

UPDATE [7 p.m.]: With eight additional COVID-19 deaths recorded statewide Thursday, Georgia has now topped 50 deaths due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health's latest update.

In total, 56 patients in the state have died from the virus.

The DPH also announced 118 more confirmed coronavirus cases since noon, bringing the state’s total to 1,643. Of those patients, 509 are hospitalized, which is about 31% of all cases.

Nearly 9,000 tests have been conducted statewide. About 18.3% of those returned positive results.

Four counties — Calhoun, Franklin, Haralson and McDuffie — recorded their first cases Thursday afternoon, bringing the number of counties affected to 102.

Fulton County saw the largest increase since noon with 20 new cases, followed by DeKalb and Dougherty, which both had eight.

In metro Atlanta, Fulton County still leads with 231 cases. As of 7 p.m. Thursday, there were 137 cases in DeKalb, 119 in Cobb, 93 in Bartow, 79 in Gwinnett, 44 in Cherokee, 37 in Clayton, 29 in Henry, 22 in Hall, 18 in Douglas, 15 in Forsyth, 14 in Fayette, 13 in Rockdale, 10 in Newton and seven in Paulding.

Patients between the ages of 18 and 59 make up the majority of cases at 57%, while those 60 and older make up 35% of cases. The DPH does not release compiled data on the ages of those who died from the virus or how many have recovered.

For the full update, click here.

ORIGINAL STORY [noon]: Georgia's confirmed coronavirus cases increased to 1,525 on Thursday, nearly doubling the numbers reported by state health officials just three days before.

Among the latest data from the Georgia Department of Public Health is one new death related to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel virus. It has claimed the lives of 48 Georgians since March 12.

The 1,525 case count is an increase of about 10% from Wednesday’s final count of 1,387.

Of those infected, about one-third are hospitalized across the state, according to health officials.

» COMPLETE COVERAGE: Coronavirus in Georgia

The virus has now affected two-thirds of the counties in the state, with the greatest impact to those in metro Atlanta. Toombs was the only new county to report a coronavirus case Thursday, making 97 affected counties across Georgia.

While Fulton County continues to report the highest number of infections, including seven new cases since late Wednesday, the impact of the outbreak in Dougherty County is deepening. The southwest Georgia county reported 156 cases Thursday, more than the much larger DeKalb and Cobb counties. Thirty-three new cases have been confirmed in Dougherty since Wednesday.

In Albany, at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital alone, 12 people have died from COVID-19. Dougherty County Coroner Michael Fowler is waiting on lab results in 11 additional deaths, he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday.

» RELATED: As virus spreads, a growing fear of overwhelmed Georgia hospitals

Of the metro Atlanta counties, there are now 211 cases of the virus in Fulton, 129 in DeKalb, 115 in Cobb, 86 in Bartow, 75 in Gwinnett, 50 in Carroll, 38 in Cherokee, 32 in Clayton, 25 in Henry, 21 in Hall, 18 in Douglas, 12 in Rockdale, 10 in Newton and seven in Paulding.

Adults younger than 60 make up a majority of the cases, while 35% occur in seniors and 1% in children.

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

As the virus spreads and testing capacity has ramped up, the number of confirmed cases has multiplied. As of Wednesday, nearly 9,000 tests had been conducted across the state, and about 17% of those returned positive results.

The state’s lab conducted 164 new tests since late Wednesday, according to the health department.

Still, amid a nationwide scarcity of test kits and supplies, Georgia continues to ration testing to those most at risk of infection. According to health experts, it is likely the number of COVID-19 cases in Georgia is 5 to 10 times higher than those confirmed by the state.

» RELATED: No timetable for widespread virus testing amid ongoing test scarcity

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.

» 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.