Georgia reports 100-plus new COVID-19 deaths for third straight day

January 8, 2021 Atlanta: Trailers parked outside of the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office located at 430 Pryor St SW in Atlanta (NOT CONFIRMED if these are used for overflow morgue). Health officials saw the COVID-19 surge coming and sounded alarms, but the holiday get-togethers went on. Now, the scenes officials have dreaded the most since the start of the pandemic are playing out all over Georgia. Hospitals overflow with COVID-19 patients. Some nursing homes are erupting with new cases. Vaccinations are behind, and, for lack of staff, some health districts are limiting COVID testing to get the shots to health care workers and the elderly. Meanwhile, with deaths mounting, the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office has deployed a refrigerated morgue truck to store bodies. A second truck is ready to go. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

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January 8, 2021 Atlanta: Trailers parked outside of the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office located at 430 Pryor St SW in Atlanta (NOT CONFIRMED if these are used for overflow morgue). Health officials saw the COVID-19 surge coming and sounded alarms, but the holiday get-togethers went on. Now, the scenes officials have dreaded the most since the start of the pandemic are playing out all over Georgia. Hospitals overflow with COVID-19 patients. Some nursing homes are erupting with new cases. Vaccinations are behind, and, for lack of staff, some health districts are limiting COVID testing to get the shots to health care workers and the elderly. Meanwhile, with deaths mounting, the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office has deployed a refrigerated morgue truck to store bodies. A second truck is ready to go. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

The third wave of the coronavirus delivered another grim milestone on Thursday as Georgia reported more than 100 confirmed COVID-19 deaths for a third straight day.

The state Department of Public Health reported 141 net new confirmed deaths attributed to COVID-19 and another 31 deemed “probable” virus deaths. On Tuesday, Georgia had set a new high for confirmed deaths with a net of 145 deaths reported. On Wednesday, the state reported 136 net new confirmed deaths.

The rolling average of confirmed coronavirus deaths by date of report is 89, the highest of any point in the pandemic.

Deaths are a lagging — and sadly inevitable — indicator of spread. The deaths reported each day tend to have occurred days or sometimes weeks earlier. This is in part due to reporting lags and because it takes time for state and local officials across Georgia’s 159 counties to confirm the cause.

Cases in Georgia have been climbing since early October, and hospitalizations started growing again soon after. But the latest surge of infections started to take off after Thanksgiving and accelerated again after Christmas.

On Thursday, DPH reported 9,036 net new confirmed and suspected COVID-19 infections. The seven-day rolling average of confirmed and suspected cases has dipped slightly to 9,694, but it remains at a rate three times higher than Georgia reported Dec. 1.

The number of people currently hospitalized in Georgia for COVID-19 as of about 3:30 p.m. was 5,613, a slight decline from a day earlier. But hospitals remain inundated with COVID-19 patients, who make up about a third of all hospitalized persons in the state.

More than nine out of 10 intensive care beds also are occupied statewide, with about half of all staffed ICU beds in Georgia filled by coronavirus patients, according to an analysis of state and federal data.

“Significantly increase public mitigation and increase communication around the importance of personal mitigation with masking, physical distancing, and avoiding family gatherings,” the White House Coronavirus Task Force warned states in its most recent report, dated Sunday.

Gov. Brian Kemp has urged Georgians to follow the advice on masks and gatherings, as well as other public health guidance, but he has rejected calls from public health experts outside of state government to enact new restrictions on businesses and gatherings.

To date, Georgia has reported 10,721 confirmed COVID-19 deaths and another 1,254 “probable” ones.

On Thursday afternoon, Georgia reported providers have administered about 326,000 doses of vaccine to date, an increase of about 43,000 doses from a day earlier. The increase reflects both new doses given and the state working through a reporting backlog on injections given days earlier.