Last week, U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-Ga., disclosed he was infected with the virus, prompting Gov. Brian Kemp to self-quarantine because the two Republican politicians were together at an indoor rally.
Georgia remains in the orange zone or the second most severe category for new confirmed case growth, and just slightly under the red zone. Georgia reported 99 new confirmed cases per 100,000 people in the seven days that ended Friday. Case counts of 101 or more per 100,000 land a state in the red zone.
The figures were based on molecular PCR tests and did not include probable cases as determined by rapid antigen tests, which Georgia only this week started reporting on its main website daily.
Georgia has reported a decline in molecular PCR testing in the past two weeks, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis of state data show, and positivity has increased slightly during that time.
Health officials have sounded the alarm that cases are likely to rise amid cooler weather and social gatherings during the holiday season.
“What we know is that indoor gatherings pose more risk than outdoor gatherings, as do gatherings with more people than those with fewer people,” said Nancy Nydam, a DPH spokeswoman. “But if people are not wearing masks or social distancing or washing their hands frequently, their risk of getting sick or spreading COVID-19 to others increases regardless.”
Georgia ranked 39th in the nation in new cases and 26th highest in test positivity last week, the White House report said, as the epidemic has expanded across most of the country.
On Wednesday, the state reported 1,863 net new confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 953 new antigen positive cases, which are considered probable cases of the virus. The state also reported 43 net new confirmed deaths.
To date, 366,452 confirmed cases of the virus have been reported in Georgia, along with 30,829 antigen positive cases. DPH reports 8,072 deaths attributed to the coronavirus, plus an additional 450 probable COVID-19 deaths.
For now, cases in Georgia remain well below the summer surge that strained the state’s health care infrastructure and led to thousands of deaths. Georgia’s current rate of spread also is not as severe as the outbreaks seen in the West, Upper Midwest and Northwest, or in Georgia’s neighboring states.
Still, the White House task force said “Georgia must expand mitigation in the counties with rising cases and hospitalizations.” This includes social distancing, hand washing, mask use and getting a flu shot.
In another troubling sign, about nine out of 10 hospitals reported having three days' or fewer worth of N95 masks, surgical gowns and gloves, the report said.