Update 12:14 p.m. 3/23/20 Oconee now has its third confirmed case of COVID-19. The number of confirmed cases in Clarke is now 14. Barrow still has a single confirmed case. The number of confirmed cases in the state now is 772.
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The original post follows.
While the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 has increased dramatically in the state in the last two days, the number of confirmed cases in Oconee, Clarke and Barrow counties has remained stable, according to data released by the Georgia Department of Public Health.
Oconee and Barrow counties are each reporting a single case, and the Department of Public Health has decreased the count of the number of cases in Clarke County from 10 to nine.
In a joint news release, Athens-Clarke County and Oconee County leaders and area legislators announced new testing opportunities and also warned that they expect the number of confirmed cases to increase as more testing occurs and results become known.
The Oconee County Board of Commissioners Friday told residents of the county that “We all have an obligation of personal responsibility to understand and abide by the recommendations that medical professionals are putting forward regarding social distancing, limiting groups to a maximum of 10 and staying home if you feel sick.”
In a separate statement, Oconee County Commission Chair John Daniell reported the death on Saturday of Oconee County Commissioner William “Bubber” Wilkes.
Wilkes had been in poor health in recent years and was taken to the hospital on Friday morning in an ambulance.
“It is with a heavy heart that I tell you Commissioner William “Bubber” Wilkes passed away today,” Daniell wrote. “Bubber loved Oconee County and was always a great advocate for its rural spaces, agricultural way of life, and employees.”
Daniell said he did not have information regarding funeral arrangements. The family is requesting no visitors at this time.
The state Department of Public Health has added a testing option for patients with moderate symptoms of COVID-19, according to a statement Saturday afternoon on Facebook by the local governmental leaders and area legislators.
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In order to set up an appointment for testing, those with moderate symptoms are asked to call 706-340-0996.
Piedmont Oconee Health Campus at Virgil Langford Road and Jennings Mill Road continues to operate its drive through testing site, the announcement said, and patients should call 866-460-1119 to be screened and set up an appointment.
Patients also can call St. Mary's Hospital at 706-389-3000, according to the statement.
These options are by appointment only, the announcement emphased. No drop ins are accepted.
“Overall, the numbers in the area are being managed,” according to the annoucement. “Results are taking several days to return and testing remains limited, so again, we anticipate larger numbers in the community and will continue to see an uptick as more testing occurs and results are returned.”
The statement was issued by Athens-Clarke County Mayor Kelly Girtz, Winterville Mayor Dodd Ferrelle, Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chair Daniell, Senators Bill Cowsert and Frank Ginn, and Representatives Spencer Frye, Houston Gaines, and Marcus Wiedower.
The Georgia Department of Public Health reported the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Athens-Clarke County on March 14, and that number grew to 10 in the count for Friday. No explanation was given for the reduction in numbers to nine for Saturday.
The Georgia Department of Public Health reported the first confirmed case in Barrow County on Tuesday and the first case in Oconee County on Friday.
Starting on Friday, the Department of Public Health has released its Daily Status Report both at noon and at 7 p.m. Prior to Friday, the Department released status reports only at noon.
Fulton County and the areas around Atlanta continue to have large number of confirmed cases. As of 7 p.m. on Saturday, Fulton had 99, Bartow had 56 and Cobb had 50.
Dougherty County, which includes Albany, had 47 cases.
At least one case is being reported for 56 of the state’s 159 counties.
In 37 cases, the county of residence of the patient is unknown, according to Saturday’s Status Report.
The 7 p.m. Status Report for Saturday listed 555 cases, up from 507 at noon and up from 485 at the end of the day on Friday.
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The increase from 287 at noon on Thursday to 420 at noon on Friday was the largest single increase since the outbreak of the virus.
The number of confirmed cases has increased by a multiple of 8.4 since March 14.
I created the two charts shown here using data from the Daily Status Report, media reports, and Wikipedia.
The Daily Status Report refreshes each day, and the data from the previous data are replaced.
I began capturing the reports on March 16.
I have asked the Department of Public Health for records going back beyond that date but have not received those data.
I used the noon figures in the second chart to keep comparisons consistent across the days.
On Friday, the county banned all use of recreational fields and courts at Oconee Veterans Parks, Herman C. Michael Park, Bogart Sports Complex and Heritage Park. Use of the playground also is prohibited.
Park walking trails will remain open provided social distancing requirements are maintained, according to that statement on the county web site.
Patrons in parks are required to adhere to national recommendations of limiting groups to a maximum of 10 people and maintaining 6-feet of separation.
All other pickup recreation games in park spaces are also prohibited, according to the statement.
“You may feel well and enjoy getting together with friends, but remember that we are in the midst of a global pandemic,” according to the statement, which is attributed to the Board of Commissioners.
“It is critical that our most vulnerable citizens are protected,” the statement continues.
The statement by Daniells regarding the passing of Commissioner Wilkes also is on the county site.