Some Georgia health departments pausing COVID testing over holiday weekend

Several of Georgia's local health departments will not be conducting COVID-19 testing over the holiday weekend, even as confirmed coronavirus cases surge and demand for testing remains extremely high.

The DeKalb County Board of Health confirmed its COVID-19 call center and testing sites would close Friday and not resume operations until Monday, saying the decision was “in line with other health districts in metro Atlanta and in other parts of the state.”

The North Central Health District surrounding Macon posted on social media that its testing sites would be closed over the July 4th weekend. Other districts outside metro Atlanta said their offices would be closed as well.

A spokesman for the Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale County Health Departments said testing will be available Friday and Saturday mornings. Fulton County's website listed at least three testing sites open on Friday.

Officials with Cobb and Douglas Public Health initially said their testing site at Jim R. Miller Park would be closed, but later said they’d decided to open the facility from 8 a.m. to noon on Friday.

Georgia Department of Health spokeswoman Nancy Nydam said that "many" testing sites were still operating this weekend and later provided a list 19 sites throughout the state.  (See the list at the bottom of this article).

She said that some sites that are normally closed on Mondays will also be open July 6 to handle pent up demand from the weekend.

“Every day the public health districts are evaluating the increased demands for testing, and working to set up and staff [collection sites] to provide testing for Georgians,” Nydam wrote in an email to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

DeKalb Board of Health spokesman Eric Nickens, meanwhile, pointed out that  “other providers, such as urgent care centers and pharmacies that will be offering testing throughout the holiday weekend, should an individual desire a COVID-19 test.”.

DeKalb County has the third-highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Georgia. County officials have been so alarmed by the recent resurgence of cases that they have sent out text messages, voice messages and alerts to hundreds of thousands of county residents this week reminding them of the virus' "imminent threat."

“The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is rapidly increasing in DeKalb and across Georgia,” an alert sent out early Thursday morning said.

The alert told recipients to wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash and sanitize their hands, stay home if possible — and to get tested.

An alert sent to DeKalb County residents Thursday morning reminding them to take COVID-19 related precautions.

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Cobb and Douglas Public Health issued its own public health alert on Wednesday.

"There is evidence of increased transmission throughout our community, outside of additional testing access, as supported by positivity rates at our testing sites that
have surpassed 10%," the alert said. "This trend has been on an upward trajectory over the last few weeks. Last week, we saw the highest number of reported cases in our district since the pandemic began."

And in Gwinnett County, a growing number of cases drew a visit from U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Thursday afternoon.

With more than 3,000, Georgia set a new daily record for confirmed COVID-19 cases on Wednesday. It topped that record on Thursday.

More than 2,800 Georgians have died during the pandemic.