19 new coronavirus deaths brings Georgia’s toll near 350; cases top 9K

UPDATE [7 p.m.]: The Georgia Department of Public Health recorded 19 new coronavirus deaths since noon, bringing the state's toll to 348.

The DPH also announced 338 more confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the state, which brings the number of cases in Georgia to 9,156. Of those, 1,899 patients are hospitalized, which is about 20.7% of all cases.

Virus-related deaths have sharply risen this week, jumping from 208 Saturday evening to nearly 350 only three days later.

Of the 69 counties to report at least one death from COVID-19, Dougherty County remains the hardest hit with 56, followed by Fulton with 39 deaths and Cobb with 29. Dougherty also reported the most new deaths since noon with four, followed by Fulton and Gwinnett counties with three each.

Nearly 33,800 tests have been conducted across the state, and about 27.1% of those returned positive results.

At least 53.7% of those who died had a preexisting condition, and the DPH did not know whether 42.5% of victims had a preexisting condition. Only 13 victims were confirmed to not have another condition that could have contributed to their death aside from COVID-19.

The youngest victim in Georgia was a 29-year-old Peach County woman, while the oldest was a 100-year-old woman from Greene County.

Only four counties — Evans, Glascock, Montgomery and Taliaferro — have not recorded their first case. The remaining 155 counties in Georgia have at least one, with Fulton County topping the list with 1,185 confirmed cases.

Fulton also had the most new cases since noon with 61, followed by Dougherty with 34 and DeKalb with 28.

As of 7 p.m. Tuesday, there were 673 cases in DeKalb, 566 in Cobb, 540 in Gwinnett, 278 in Clayton, 215 in Hall, 208 in Henry, 191 in Bartow, 147 in Cherokee, 117 in Douglas, 99 in Forsyth, 86 in Rockdale, 81 in Fayette, 67 in Newton and 62 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 data on how many patients have recovered.

For the full update, click here.

ORIGINAL STORY [noon]: For the second day in a row, the number of deaths from the coronavirus in Georgia has risen sharply.

Thirty-five more Georgians have died since Monday night, according to the latest data from the Georgia Department of Public Health. Those deaths follow the 75 reported Monday to contribute to a statewide total of 329 deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel virus.

As of Tuesday, there are 8,818 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of more than 1,000, or about 17%, from the figures health officials reported the night before. Of those who have tested positive, 1,774 have been hospitalized since the coronavirus pandemic entered Georgia, officials said.

Additional growth in number of cases, deaths and hospitalizations is expected when the Department of Public Health releases its next update at 7 p.m.

» COMPLETE COVERAGE: Coronavirus in Georgia

Health officials say the number of infections still does not adequately reflect the severity of the coronavirus crisis in Georgia, as a limited supply of tests remain rationed for the most vulnerable. A partnership between universities and state agencies announced last week could improve testing capabilities, although it is unclear when tests might be made widely available to the public.

Since Monday night, commercial and state laboratories have conducted 2,439 additional tests.

» RELATED: Rapid virus tests come to Atlanta as testing slowly ramps up

With increased testing and rapid spread of the virus, numbers are expected to surge in the coming weeks. One widely cited model by the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predicts that Georgia's daily death toll could peak April 21. By then, the model shows an additional 1,500 Georgians could die from COVID-19.

» AJC IN-DEPTH: 75 more deaths in a day: Georgia enters devastating phase of outbreak

» MORE: Flu hits rural Georgia hard, data shows. Will COVID-19 do the same?

Hancock is now among the 155 counties in Georgia with a known case. Only four — Evans, Glascock, Montgomery and Taliaferro counties — have no confirmed cases as of Tuesday.

In metro Atlanta, there are 1,124 cases of the virus in Fulton County, 645 in DeKalb, 550 in Cobb, 525 in Gwinnett, 266 in Clayton, 196 in Hall, 194 in Henry, 187 in Bartow, 177 in Carroll, 144 in Cherokee, 111 in Douglas, 85 in Rockdale, 65 in Newton and 60 in Paulding.

Dougherty County in southwest Georgia reported the largest increases Tuesday, with 217 new infections and eight more deaths for a total of 52. The county is home to Albany and has become a hot spot of the epidemic in Georgia. Neighboring counties Sumter, Terrell and Lee also saw a big spike in numbers Tuesday. Sumter and Terrell, which both have populations of about 30,000, saw cases increase by the dozens.

Much smaller Lee County, which is home to about 8,500 people, kept pace. Officials in Lee reported 47 new infections and two more deaths since Monday night, bringing the county’s death toll to 15.

Coffee, Greene, Pierce, Tift and Brantley each reported their first death Tuesday. Thirty-six deaths, including four more since Monday night, have been reported in Fulton County alone.

Of the deaths statewide, about 54% had underlying conditions and 82% were age 60 or older, according to health officials. More men than women have died of COVID-19 in Georgia.

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

» MORE: Map tracks coronavirus globally in real time

Georgia remains under a statewide stay-at-home order that restricts all but essential activities. Other than trips to buy food, seek medical care, work in critical jobs or exercise outdoors, Georgians are urged to stay indoors to help curb new infections.

The order is in force through at least April 13. Gov. Brian Kemp also ordered the closure of all public schools through the end of the academic year.

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.

In other news: 

Channel 2 Action News has learned that hundreds are seeking refuge at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on any given night, as city leaders and non-profits work to find more shelter.