COVID-19 fight in Georgia far from over, says CDC report


Despite weeks of social distancing from containing the coronavirus, the epidemic continues to worsen in many parts of Georgia, according to a federal report.

The report, presented to the White House by the Atlanta Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, estimates that deaths from the virus will reach 3,000 a day across the country by June. This is significantly higher than the current daily average of around 1,750 and predicts an ultimate death rate far exceeding 100,000.

In Georgia, according to the CDC, the Atlanta subway and other populated areas of the state are among the regions “whose burden continues to grow”, or which, at best, have seen new diagnoses stabilize at a high plateau. Several counties, many of which are rural and sparsely populated, have experienced significant reductions in infection rates.

Georgia has confirmed more than 29,400 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. As of Monday evening, 1,243 deaths have been reported across the state, an increase from 64 since Sunday.

In its report to the White House, the CDC did not provide data at the county level, although it represents each of the country’s more than 3,000 counties on color-coded maps. The document, which had not been released to the public before, was published online Monday by the New York Times.
CDC maps show that the rate of infections continues to rise in the hardest hit region of Georgia, the counties surrounding Albany, about 200 miles southwest of Atlanta. Albany is the county seat of Dougherty County, which has had one of the highest infection rates in the country and has recorded 125 deaths – only four less than Fulton County, although it has one-tenth of the population.
The CDC report was released as Georgia gradually resumed operations. Governor Brian Kemp last week lifted the month-long shelter for most Georgians, but has ordered elderly and medically fragile residents to stay home until at least June 12.

With the foreclosure complete, several Atlanta metro malls reopened on Monday. But many stores have remained bleak and few buyers have ventured into the new retail standard.


In another indicator of the persistence of the pandemic, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia Harold Melton said on Monday that he would extend the statewide judicial emergency until June 12. The emergency, which suspended trials and many other proceedings, was scheduled to expire on May 13.

Kemp defended his decision to ease social restrictions in an online conference call Monday with economist Stephen Moore, a member of President Donald Trump’s economic task force, and FreedomWorks, a conservative organization that helped promote the Tea Party movement.

Georgia is “so much better prepared now than it was a month or six weeks ago,” said Kemp. “We are working on the long term,” he said, saying the economic damage caused by the lockdown could be as damaging as the virus itself.


” PICTURES: COVID-19 tests on a pop-up site at DeKalb

Kemp’s remarks suggest that ideology played a role in his response to the epidemic, as he shifted the burden of containing the virus from government to individuals.

“Most people listen to our advice and learn from their interactions,” said Kemp. “We have to get people to take responsibility, to keep doing the right thing, to stay away from people in public, to wear a mask in a crowded grocery store, to wash their hands.”

“These things work, and we must continue to do so until there is a cure or medication,” he said, apparently referring to a vaccine.
Kemp even found a silver lining in the projected state budget deficits, which are expected to require at least $ 3.5 billion in cuts. This could allow him, he said, to continue implementing the republican visions of a limited government.

“This is a great opportunity for us to reignite conversations about how to do more with less,” said Kemp. He didn’t elaborate.

Later, the Kemp office released data showing a slight drop in hospitalizations for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases: from 2,728 April 8 to 2,655 Monday. The data, compiled by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, showed an average daily number of 2,929 patients hospitalized during this period. About 5,500 coronavirus patients have been admitted to hospitals in Georgia since the start of the epidemic.
Other data released by state officials clashes to some extent with the CDC report to the White House. Data from Georgia showed a drop in the state’s infection and death rates across the state, as well as a decrease in emergency room visits for patients with symptoms of coronavirus. Some figures are too recent to be considered complete.

Some public health experts continue to say that Kemp acted too soon by lifting the warrant for the on-site shelter, an action they believe will cause a second wave of infection.

“Let’s be clear, the cases are not going down,” wrote Dr. Carlos del Rio, an infectious disease specialist at Emory University, on Twitter. “The decision to lift the restrictions is economical, but don’t say it is based on public health data.

“Please stay safe, it’s not over! “

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Writers Greg Bluestein and Bill Rankin contributed to the writing of this article.


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