ATLANTA, GA — Georgia reported only seven more deaths from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, according to numbers released at noon Tuesday by the state.
Also, as the number of tests increases, the percentage of positives continues to shrink. A week ago, about 15 percent of those tested for COVID-19 had it. As of noon Tuesday, only about 10 percent are shown to have it.
In its noon report on Tuesday, the Georgia Department of Public Health counted 38,624 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 1,649 deaths. More than 378,000 tests for the coronavirus have been administered so far, with about 10 percent shown to be positive. About 7,000 Georgians have been hospitalized for COVID-19, with a little more than 1,500 of them admitted to an intensive-care unit for it.
Counties in or near metro Atlanta continue to have the highest number of cases, with Fulton County in first place with 3,757 confirmed positives. DeKalb is second with 2,868, Gwinnett is third with 2,695, Cobb is fourth with 2,454 and Hall is fifth with 2,169. Today’s statistics also identify 2,169 cases of COVID-19 as from “unknown” counties, with 1,693 cases counted as “Non-Georgia.”
Fulton County reports the most deaths, with 172. Dougherty County in southwest Georgia, site of the state’s earliest hotspot, is second with 135 deaths. Rounding out the top five counties are Cobb in third with 132 deaths, Gwinnett in fourth with 105 deaths and DeKalb in fifth with 86 deaths.
Get the latest updates on the new coronavirus in Georgia as they happen. Sign up for free news alerts and a newsletter in your Patch town.
While all 159 counties in Georgia have by now reported at least one case of COVID-19, about 40 percent of them — all rural — have reported no more than one death. Thirty-one counties — again, all rural — have reported no deaths at all.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that those who live outside Atlanta will get off easy. According to a study from the University of Georgia’s College of Public Health, rural counties in south Georgia are especially vulnerable because of the prevalence of risk factors like obesity and diabetes.
“The hard-hit counties will need more support than a neighboring county where the disease has not spread, not just for the health of their county but for the health of the adjoining county and the state,” said Janani Thapa, director of the college’s Economic Evaluation Research Group.
Two challenges to interpreting the data have been lag time — today’s numbers don’t necessarily represent what happened today — and inconsistencies in reporting. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on May1 3 that updates from the state have shown the number of deaths actually dropping and children mistakenly shown as having died. The state's website makes a point of apologizing for the error, saying "we are working diligently to provide the most accurate information, and we apologize for any confusion."
Still, even today, numbers change over time in ways that aren't immediately explainable. For example, in numbers released at 1 p.m., an hour after the figures reported above, Appling County showed one more death — yet the total number of deaths for Georgia remained constant.
For those who want to crunch the numbers for themselves, the Georgia Department of Health now offers downloadable spreadsheets on its COVID-19 landing page with some of the data on total numbers. The state updates its coronavirus numbers at least twice a day, with overall status reports posted on the website at 9 a.m., 1 p.m., and 7 p.m. daily.