Q&A: What are the latest Georgia COVID numbers telling us?

Nitro Zone has partnered with CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort) and Georgia's DPH for a free community vaccination pop-up event noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19 at Nitro Zone in Peachtree Corners. (Courtesy CORE)

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Nitro Zone has partnered with CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort) and Georgia's DPH for a free community vaccination pop-up event noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19 at Nitro Zone in Peachtree Corners. (Courtesy CORE)

Q: What is the situation with new infections?

A: Statewide, the seven-day rolling average of new confirmed and probable infections on Thursday was 21,086, slightly below the all-time high set Tuesday. Georgia had been on a streak of new rolling average highs for two weeks before Tuesday, but in recent days the core metro Atlanta counties of Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett have reported declines.

While the latest numbers show the outbreak is decelerating, Thursday’s case number is still 23-times the state’s rolling average at the end of November. For now, infections remain elevated and test positivity very high, a sign the state is not capturing the full scope of the epidemic. Public health officials have said the official case numbers may be low because of a scarcity of tests and many at-home rapid test results are likely unaccounted for.

Q: How many people are hospitalized in Georgia now?

A: While the number of newly confirmed cases is dropping in some areas, the number hospitalized with COVID lags and may continue to rise. At 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, 5,372 people — nearly one-in-three patients — were hospitalized in Georgia for COVID-19. Georgia is approaching its previous peak of more than 6,000 patients hospitalized for the coronavirus at one time. More than 2,100 of the state’s COVID-19 patients were in Region D, which includes Atlanta. But the situation statewide is uneven. For now, hospital systems in the southern rural parts of the state have yet to see the burden of North Georgia systems. For all conditions, about 88% of all hospital beds are in use statewide, including 89% of intensive care beds.

Q: Has Georgia started to see an increase in deaths?

A: Deaths are also a lagging indicator. As measured by date of report, the combined seven-day rolling average of deaths deemed confirmed from COVID-19 and probable from the coronavirus was 41 as of Thursday. That’s up from 30 at the end of November when the omicron wave took off.

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