Opinion: Some welcome news in Ga.’s COVID-19 struggle


Given Georgia’s long slog to gain ground against the COVID-19 pandemic, good news is more than welcome.

So it’s encouraging to see that the state has, at long last, dipped out of the COVID-19 red zone. That means that some key numbers are looking better these days.

The latest report by the White House Coronavirus Task Force and obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes that “Georgia has seen a decrease in new cases and a decrease in test positivity over the last week. Improvements were seen at university campuses.”

Just last month, Georgia reported the highest rate of new cases in the nation. Things have markedly improved, according to the latest statistics. Georgia had the 23rd highest rate of case growth in the U.S. from Sept. 19 to Sept. 25, according to the White House task force.

This good news is encouraging, but it doesn’t mean the pandemic’s peril has moved on. We wish that were so, but COVID-19′s risks remain in our midst. So Georgians must maintain their vigilance and continue practicing the public health safeguards we should all know by heart by now.

The task force’s recommendations note that “Georgia is making progress and to sustain the gains, must continue the strong mitigation efforts statewide and continue mitigation efforts in university towns to decrease spread from universities to the local community.”

Georgia health officials now speak of “Four Things For Fall.” As in wear face coverings, practice social distancing, wash hands frequently and otherwise follow public health recommendations, including avoiding crowds. These are things all of us can – and should – do without fail.

Backing up the necessity of this commonsense plea is that Georgia’s rate of newly reported deaths from coronavirus remained above the national average last week, according to the task force. The percentage of skilled nursing homes and long-term care facilities with at least one new infection and new deaths also is above the national average.

All that should be considered alongside news that Georgia, since mid-July, has reported declining cases in nine of the past 10 weeks, according an AJC analysis of state data.

Overall, Georgia is making some headway against a disease that’s killed some 7,000 people here to date. With sustained effort by federal, state and local governments – and all of us – we’re hopeful that the good progress will continue.