Health officials confirm 3 deaths, 197 coronavirus cases in Georgia

Health officials said Wednesday night that three people in Georgia have now died from coronavirus among a reported 197 confirmed cases in the state.

The two most recent confirmed deaths from the COVID-19 disease were a 42-year-old woman and a 69-year-old woman, both at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. Each had existing medical conditions, according to spokeswoman Nancy Nydam.

They were among 13 coronavirus patients being treated at the southwest Georgia facility.

» RELATED: Two coronavirus deaths confirmed in southwest Georgia

The first confirmed state death from COVID-19, reported on March 12, was a 67-year-old man being treated at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta, state health officials said.

While it was not confirmed by the GDPH, Emory Healthcare announced Wednesday that a fourth coronavirus patient had died.

“The Emory Healthcare community is saddened to learn of the first death of one of our patients with confirmed COVID-19 despite the heroic efforts of our physicians, nurses and care team,” a statement said. “For this patient's family, this is an incredibly sad day. We are unable to provide any more details due to patient confidentiality. Emory Healthcare is committed to serving our patients and their loved ones with the most advanced care available throughout this unprecedented situation and beyond.”

» COMPLETE COVERAGE: Coronavirus in Georgia

The daily total of confirmed cases statewide was up 51 from Tuesday's cases, which totaled 146, according to the latest data. Since spiking Saturday, the number of cases has risen steadily each day, increasing at a rate of about 20%.

Wednesday’s figures were the biggest jump this week at an increase of about 35% from the previous day.

The first cases were reported Wednesday in Houston and Whitfield counties, according to health officials. Fulton County continues to see the largest day-to-day increase with 16 new cases.

Nine new cases were reported in Bartow County alone. Rockdale County is no longer listed among the now 28 counties with coronavirus patients.

Experts say the number of coronavirus cases is likely far higher than the 197 reported. Some who are believed to have contracted COVID-19 are being advised not to seek testing.

Emory Healthcare, Piedmont Healthcare and Wellstar Healthcare, three of the largest hospital systems in the state, are advising those who can recover at home to do so. They are urging mild cases not to inundate hospitals and doctors’ offices for testing, as it could “worsen the impact of COVID-19,” the hospital systems said Monday in a joint statement.

For the first time Wednesday, health officials offered a look at the number of tests performed across the state. The state’s lab conducted 443 tests for a total of 93 positive results. Commercial labs conducted more than 1,000 tests, which returned 104 positive results.

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.

The state Department of Public Health updates its website with the latest figures each day at noon. The count only includes confirmed cases, not presumptive ones. It issued an additional release Wednesday night once the second and third deaths were confirmed.

As of Wednesday, there were 49 cases of the virus in Fulton County; 28 in Cobb; 19 in Bartow; 18 in DeKalb; nine in Cherokee; eight in Fayette; seven in Gwinnett and Dougherty; six in Clayton and Floyd; five in Clarke and Lowndes; three each in Coweta, Gordon, Hall, Newton and Paulding; two each in Forsyth, Henry, Lee and Troup; and one each in Barrow, Charlton, Columbia, Houston, Richmond, Polk and Whitfield.

About 54% of those cases occurred in men, according to data from the health department. The adult population younger than 60 continues to make up the largest portion of the confirmed cases at 43%.

People 60 and older account for 39%, about 2% are children and the ages of the remaining 16% are unknown.

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