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Experts also caution against drawing conclusions about virus trends using data for relatively short time periods.
Still, the increase in detected cases are a reason to pay close attention. While the number of people currently hospitalized statewide dropped during the past two weeks, deaths rose from 201 to 221 during that same period. A COVID-19 hot-spot also emerged last week in rural Hancock County.
It can take a week or more between when a person is infected to when DPH logs a test result, which means that a jump during the week of May 18 would be a reflection of what happened in early or mid May, noted Benjamin Lopman, a professor of epidemiology at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health
“We’ll need to continue to watch the data in the coming weeks, and I am worried we’ll see further increases,” Lopman said in an email.
The rise in confirmed cases places Georgia among 20 states recording increases, as reported Tuesday by Reuters news agency, which analyzed week over week data ending Saturday. They found a statewide increase of about 21%.
South Carolina had the biggest week-by-week increase at 42%. Alabama, Missouri and North Carolina also recorded big jumps. Fifteen states posted 14 days of declining cases, a benchmark set by the White House for easing social distancing requirements, the news agency reported.
Nationally, new cases declined .8% for the week ending May 24, Reuters reported, but that decline was lower than the 8% posted in the previous week.
Infectious disease experts projected that transmission of the virus would increase in Georgia after Gov. Brian Kemp ended his shelter-in-place order for most residents April 30. How much depends on how well Georgians follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations to wear masks, avoid groups and wash their hands.
If residents comply, cases will likely tick upwards slowly. If they don’t, states risk a surge in cases, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci and other public health experts have said.
Staff writers Emily Merwin DiRico and John Perry contributed to this report.
THE VIRUS IN GEORGIA
As of 7 p.m. Tuesday
CONFIRMED CASES: 43,983
CONFIRMED DEATHS: 1,895
CURRENT HOSPITALIZATIONS: 854
For more, go to ajc.com/cvupdate