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Public health alert issued for Cobb & Douglas over coronavirus surge

050420 Decatur: Some of the more than two dozen specimen collection volunteers perform free COVID-19 tests at a pop-up site at the House of Hope on Monday, May 4, in Decatur. Pastors, local physicians, health ministers, and other community leaders united to encourage area residents to get tested with hundreds of motorists participating.    Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com
050420 Decatur: Some of the more than two dozen specimen collection volunteers perform free COVID-19 tests at a pop-up site at the House of Hope on Monday, May 4, in Decatur. Pastors, local physicians, health ministers, and other community leaders united to encourage area residents to get tested with hundreds of motorists participating. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

The public health department for Cobb and Douglas counties issued an alert Wednesday warning of a “substantial rise” in confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus.

The alert pointed to evidence of increased transmission that could not be attributed to additional testing, with the positivity rate at local testing sites surpassing 10 percent.

This has been mirrored by an increase in COVID-19 related 911 calls, emergency room visits, hospitalizations and demand for intensive care unit beds, the agency said.

“Residents are strongly encouraged to follow public health guidelines, particularly as we approach the July 4th holiday weekend,” read a statement from the department attributed to Janet Memark, the doctor who leads the department.

Fortunately, it said, the death rate has continued to decline as the rise in new cases appears to predominantly affect younger age groups.

The alert came the same day Georgia set a new record with nearly 3,000 new confirmed cases.

People who are medically-fragile and elderly are strongly encouraged to continue to shelter in place as much as possible through at least July 15.

Over 300 businesses have been directly affected in Cobb and Douglas counties over the past few weeks, and 75 outbreaks are under investigation.

The department urged all residents to adhere to the following guidelines:

•Frequently wash their hands or use hand sanitizer

•Stand 6 feet away from others when outside their home

•Wear cloth masks when social distancing is not consistently possible

•Stay at home when you are sick

•Continue to frequently disinfect your home and business

•Avoid large gatherings of more than 50 people