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Tents set up behind Wellstar Kennestone ER as coronavirus case number grows

Tents are set up behind Wellstar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta. Photos: Jennifer Brett, jbrett@ajc.com
Tents are set up behind Wellstar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta. Photos: Jennifer Brett, jbrett@ajc.com

Tents have been set up behind the emergency room at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta.

“At Wellstar, the health and safety of our patients and communities is at the center of everything we do,” said a statement. “Wellstar Kennestone has set up tents for COVID-19. There are many criteria for testing and not everyone meets the criteria to get a COVID-19 test.”

Wellstar Health System said the blue tents at Kennestone are for isolating patients with cough, cold or fever.

Georgia authorities confirmed the state's first coronavirus-related death last week. The victim was a 67-year-old male with "underlying medical conditions" who had been hospitalized at Wellstar Kennestone. State officials said the victim tested positive on March 7.

“The patient was masked immediately upon arrival, which helped limit overall exposure to others, and the risk to our staff and visitors remains significantly low,” Gov. Brian Kemp said.

ExploreThe Georgia Department of Public Health now reports 121 confirmed coronavirus cases in Georgia, up from Sunday’s total of 99.

New cases were confirmed in Cherokee, Clarke, Clayton, Cobb, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry and Lowndes counties, according to the agency. Of those, Clayton, Cobb and Fulton counties reported the largest increases, with three new cases each in Clayton and Cobb and seven in Fulton. Forsyth, Hall, Paulding and Troup counties each reported their first ever case of the coronavirus, the state health department said.

Medical experts expect the actual number of cases is far greater and that official tallies will rise as testing becomes more widespread.

“If you don’t have good testing you are releasing numbers that are really meaningless, just totally meaningless,” said Dr. Arthur Caplan, founding head of the Division of Medical Ethics at New York University’s School of Medicine.