More than 26,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Georgia as of Thursday, officials said.

Georgia’s COVID-19 death toll increases to 1,165; cases nearly reach 27.5K

UPDATE [6:30 p.m.]: Since 11:30 a.m., state officials have increased Georgia’s coronavirus death toll by 18, meaning 1,165 Georgians have died due to the outbreak.

In the past 24 hours, the Georgia Department of Public Health has recorded 33 COVID-19 deaths.

In addition, the DPH confirmed 358 cases of COVID-19 since 11:30 a.m., bringing the state’s total to 27,492. Of those, more than 5,300 patients have been hospitalized at some point in Georgia, which is about 19.3% of all cases. At least 1,229 patients have been admitted into a hospital’s intensive care unit due to the virus.

More than 168,000 tests have been conducted in Georgia, and about 16.3% of those have returned positive results.

Dougherty County continues to lead the state in deaths with 123, followed by Fulton with 122 and Cobb with 94. Since 11:30 a.m., Butts County recorded the most deaths with five, followed by Fulton with four and DeKalb with two.

In that same time frame, Hall County recorded the most new cases with 102, followed by Fulton with 39 and DeKalb with 20.

As of Friday evening, there are 2,889 cases of COVID-19 in Fulton, 2,071 in DeKalb, 1,844 in Gwinnett, 1,676 in Cobb, 1,481 in Hall, 725 in Clayton, 492 in Henry, 474 in Cherokee, 375 in Carroll, 329 in Douglas, 323 in Bartow, 308 in Forsyth, 200 in Newton, 191 in Rockdale and 190 in Paulding.

In the past 24 hours, Georgia has recorded 1,232 cases of COVID-19, according to the DPH’s totals.

For the full update, click here.

ORIGINAL STORY [11:30 a.m.]: State health officials have confirmed an additional 1,000 cases of the new coronavirus in the past 24 hours, bringing Georgia’s total infections above 27,000.

As of noon Thursday, the Georgia Department of Public Health was reporting just over 26,000 confirmed cases. That number now stands at 27,134, according to data released at 12:25 p.m. Friday.

At least 1,147 Georgians have died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. The health department verified an additional 40 deaths since midday Thursday.

» COMPLETE COVERAGE: Coronavirus in Georgia

New infections continue to climb by the hundreds daily in metro Atlanta. As of Thursday, there are at least 2,850 cases of the virus in Fulton County, 2,051 in DeKalb, 1,829 in Gwinnett, 1,664 in Cobb, 1,379 in Hall, 720 in Clayton, 492 in Henry, 477 in Cherokee, 371 in Carroll, 324 in Douglas, 318 in Bartow, 304 in Forsyth, 198 in Newton, 191 in Rockdale and 189 in Paulding.

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

» MORE: Map tracks coronavirus globally in real time 

Leaders and public health experts are still fighting to curb its spread even as Georgia emerges from a monthlong order to shelter in place. Friday is the first day for lessened restrictions on travel, business and other activities for most Georgians. 

» RELATED: Most Atlanta malls won’t open today

» MORE: AJC Peachtree Road Race postponed

Gov. Brian Kemp said he is still urging residents to stay home whenever possible, and businesses must continue to operate under strict social distancing guidelines until May 13. The elderly and medically fragile remain under a shelter-in-place order through June 12.

» MORE: What to know about Kemp’s decision to ease Georgia’s stay-at-home order

“I want to thank the people of our great state who heeded public health advice, afforded us time to bolster our healthcare infrastructure, and flattened the curve,” Kemp said in announcing the next phase of virus response. “We were successful in these efforts, but the fight is far from over.”

One way state leaders aim to fight is through increased COVID-19 testing. Dr. Kathleen Toomey, Georgia’s public health commissioner, set a private goal Monday of 100,000 new tests in the next 10 days.

With an increase in test kits and the loosening of state and federal eligibility guidelines, some local leaders have said they are cautiously optimistic they can reach that goal. 

» AJC IN-DEPTH: Test sites surge in Georgia, but will enough people show up?

As of noon Friday, the state had conducted 168,367 tests, an increase of 24,500 from those reported at the same time Thursday. Just last week, the state was averaging less than 7,000 tests per day, according to data from the health department. 

Experts say hospital bed capacity and access to other health care resources are also key in containing the virus’ spread. More than 5,200 patients have been hospitalized across the state since the outbreak began, with 1,211 admitted to intensive care units, officials reported. That is an increase of 48 ICU admissions in the past 24 hours.

On Tuesday, Kemp said the fewest ventilators were in use across the state since hospitals began submitting information on use to the Georgia Emergency Management Agency on April 8. A total of 2,846 ventilators are available in Georgia, according to Kemp.

» CONTINUING COVERAGE: Still not flush with masks, Georgia hospitals ease back into surgeries

He is urging all those experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 to schedule an appointment with their local health department, their primary care doctor or an urgent care clinic to get tested. Do not show up unannounced at a testing site, emergency room or other health care facility.

State and local officials are also partnering with the CDC to conduct antibody testing at randomly selected homes in Fulton and DeKalb counties through Monday.

Georgians can 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.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.
AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.

Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.
AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.

With the largest team in the state, the AJC reports what’s really going on with your tax dollars and your elected officials. Subscribe today. Visit the AJC's Georgia Navigator for the latest in Georgia politics.

Your subscription to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism. Visit the AJC's Georgia Navigator for the latest in Georgia politics.