The Georgia Department of Public Health added 10 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the 10-county Northeast Health District on Thursday, bringing the total number or cases in the region to 1,021 and producing a very slight increase in the seven-day rolling average of added cases to 17.9.
Barrow County again led the list of counties reporting increases, with six new cases. Oconee County, for the seventh day in a row, reported no new cases.
Oconee County Sheriff Scott Berry reported late Wednesday that Oconee County had added no new Active COVID-19 cases, though he has reported adding four cases in the last seven days including Wednesday. Berry’ data come from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.
The Department of Community Health Long-Range Care Facility COVID-19 Report for Wednesday listed 213 COVID Positive Residents in the long-term care facilities in the Northeast Health District, or an increase of 12 from Tuesday.
The number of COVID Positive Staff at the facilities increased from 54 to 58, with one of those additional staff infections at High Shoals Health and Rehabilitation in North High Shoals in Oconee County.
While the Department of Public Health Daily Status Report listed no new deaths in the Northeast Health District on Thursday and the total stood at 40, the Department of Community Health report indicated that the number of deaths at the area’s long-term facilities increased one, to 33.
The new death included in the Department of Community Health report was at the Winder Health Care and Rehabilitation Center in Barrow County, bringing the total number of deaths at that facility to eight.
The Department of Public Health lists and Department of Community Health lists are independently produced and do not produce consistent results.
The Georgia Emergency Management Agency COVID-19 Situation Report for late Wednesday listed the number of emergency room beds available in its Region E dropping from 121 on Monday to 111 on Tuesday, the number of Critical Care Beds available dropping from 18 on Monday to 13 on Tuesday, and the number of overall beds available dropping from 190 on Monday to 177 on Tuesday.
Region E includes the 10 counties in the Department of Public Health Northeast District plus Hart and Franklin counties.
Across the state, the Department of Public Health Daily Status Report for 1:30 on Thursday added 526 new cases, down from the 697 added on Wednesday, bringing the rolling average of cases added each day down to 656.9 from 681.4 on Wednesday.
The 22 added deaths in the Daily Status Report on Thursday were down from the 44 added on Wednesday, and the seven-day rolling average of new deaths reported dropped from 28.6 to 27.4
Across the state, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency report for late Wednesday shows that the number of available ventilators increased by nine, to 1959, on Wednesday, and the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations decreased by 34 to 1,091.
The Daily Status Report home page now links to reports from the Department of Community Health and to the Georgia Emergency Management Agency reports.
Reports Of Deaths
The discrepancies between the Department of Public Health Daily Status Report and the Department of Community Health reports shows that there is little, if any coordination between them, particularly in terms of reports of deaths.
The Department of Public Health defines its reports on deaths as “the total number of Georgia residents who are confirmed COVID-19 cases that were reported as deaths on the Person Under Investigation (PUI) to DPH. These numbers might not reflect all deaths from COVID-19 due to challenges in attribution of the cause of death.”
The Department of Community Health, asks operators of long-term care facilities to report on the number of COVID-19 deaths, and states that these “May include deaths occurring at locations other than the facility, such as a hospital.”
The Department of Public Health says that hospitals report deaths using its PUI form, but it does not specify that long-term care facilities do so.
The Department of Community Health and the Department of Public Health are two of Georgia’s four “Health Care Agencies,” with the Department of Behavioral Health and Disabilities and the Department of Human Services being the other two.
Oconee County Deaths
One of the deaths at High Shoals Health and Rehabilitation in North High Shoals in Oconee County illustrates the reporting issue.
The Department of Public Health lists Oconee County as having no deaths attributed to COVID-19.
The Department of Community Health lists two deaths at the High Shoals Health and Rehabilitation nursing home.
Charles LeRoy Freeman, 86, died on May 1, according to his obituary. Among those listed as survivors were a daughter, Aimee Lashley, and her husband, Ken.
Both had posted on Facebook about the passing of Freeman, indicating that he died at the North High Shoals Health and Rehabilitation nursing home.
After several days of trying, I was able to make contact with both Aimee and Ken Lashley late on Wednesday evening, and I spoke with Ken Lashley by telephone on Thursday morning.
Lashley is CEO of Dealer Part Source, based in Lithonia in DeKalb County east of Atlanta. He and his wife live in Boulder Spring subdivision, not far from High Shoals Health and Rehabilitation.
Details of Testing
Lashley said that Freeman had been in the High Shoals Health and Rehabilitation nursing home for about a year, that his legal address was at the nursing home, and that he had lived in Oconee County prior to moving to a nursing home.
Lashley said that shortly before his death, Freeman became ill and, given his symptoms, was tested for COVID-19.
Freeman died one day before the positive test results showed he had the disease, Lashley said.
Lashley said he and his wife were told by representatives at High Shoals Health and Rehabilitation that his father-in-law was listed as the first of the two deaths at the nursing home in the facility’s report to the Department of Community Health.
Freeman did not go to a hospital and died at the nursing home, Lashley said.
According to the Department of Public Health, Oconee County still has no deaths attributed to COVID-19.
The first chart below summarizes the data from the Department of Public Health Daily Status Report for the 10-county Northeast Health District, based on the release of 1:30 p.m. on Thursday.
The second and third charts are for the state of Georgia and also are based on the Department of Public Health Daily Status Report for 1:30 p.m. on Thursday.
The fourth chart reports data released by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency late on Wednesday as part of its COVID-19 Situation Report. The three data points released on ventilator use are shown in the table beneath the charted lines.
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