ATLANTA, GA — Georgia caught another break Sunday, reporting fewer than 2,800 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and only three deaths in its daily report.
Is that a trend? Maybe.
A Mercer University infectious-disease expert suggested that the number of new cases, while high, may be plateauing because more people are wearing masks and staying 6 feet apart.
"That may be real, or it may not be real, because we're having such backlogs in testing right now," Dr. Amber Schmidtke said to WAGA-TV. "But if it is real, that maybe shows us that human behavior is playing a role in cutting down transmission."
However, she also noted that some areas of Georgia are close to filling all of their ICU beds.
"This week, we saw that multiple hospitals were above 90 percent capacity for their critical care beds, and that is a cause for concern," Schmidtke said to WAGA-TV.
Schmidtke, who explains the COVID-19 numbers on her Facebook page, said there’s no way to tell if all those ICU beds are filled with COVID-19 patients. Still, if the beds are filled to capacity, it’s a problem.
Sunday’s reported new hospitalizations — only 62 — also was considerably lower than the 277 new hospitalizations reported Saturday.
All of it was a welcome relief from Friday’s record-setting numbers in Georgia: 4,813 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 82 more deaths.
Those who test positive for COVID-19 don’t necessarily become ill — in some cases, they may not even show symptoms — but they can spread the coronavirus to others who are vulnerable.
The Georgia Department of Public Health reported a total of 167,953 confirmed cases of COVID-19 at 2:50 p.m. Sunday. That's 2,765 more than was reported at the same time Saturday.
Georgia also reported 3,498 deaths so far from COVID-19, only three more that reported Saturday. In addition, the state reported 17,091 hospitalizations, 62 more than Saturday, and 3,168 total admissions to intensive-care units, only 10 more Saturday.
No information is available from Georgia about how many patients have recovered.
Counties in or near metro Atlanta continue to have the highest number of positives.
Fulton County: 15,843 cases — 194 new
Gwinnett County: 15,315 cases — 181 new
DeKalb County: 11,159 cases — 134 new
Cobb County: 10,120 cases — 111 new
Hall County: 4,860 cases — 15 new
Counties in or near metro Atlanta also continue to have the most deaths from COVID-19. The lone exception is Dougherty County, the site of Georgia's first major outbreak.
Fulton County: 372 deaths
Cobb County: 287 deaths
Gwinnett County: 216 deaths
DeKalb County: 207 deaths
Dougherty County: 162 deaths
As of Sunday, Georgia has administered nearly 1.6 million COVID-19 tests, with about 13 percent of those tests the less reliable ones used to detect antibodies.
For the more reliable test for the virus itself, 10.7 percent of tests came back positive. For the less reliable test for antibodies, 6.2 percent came back positive. The overall positive rate was about 10.1 percent.
As more Georgians were tested over the last few weeks, positive percentages for both the virus test and tests overall have inched upward. On July 6, the percentage of tests overall that came back positive was only 8.7 percent.
All Georgia statistics are available on the state's COVID-19 website.
Globally, more than 16.1 million people have been infected by COVID-19, and nearly 647,000 people have died, Johns Hopkins University reported Sunday.
In the United States, more than 4.2 million people have been infected and more than 146,000 people have died from COVID-19 as of Sunday. The U.S. has only about 4 percent of the world's population but more confirmed cases and deaths than any other country.