The Georgia Hospital Association and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency reported on Friday that area hospitals had 17 COVID-19 patients, down from the 23 cases reported last Friday and back to the levels in June.
The number of ICU beds in use on Friday was 73, down from 76 a week earlier, and the number of adult ventilators in use was 29, up from 24 on last Friday.
The Georgia Department of Public Health reported six new confirmed deaths from COVID-19 in its report on Wednesday, down from seven reported a week earlier.
One the newly reported confirmed COVID-19 deaths was in Clarke County. The Department of Public Health reported a “probable” death from COVID-19 in Oconee County.
The Georgia Department of Public Health also reported that the Northeast Health District added 195 new cases of COVID-19 in the week ending on Sept. 28, based on the Department’s electronic tracking system.
That number of added cases on Wednesday was down dramatically from Sept. 21, when 991 new cases were added, in a reporting abnormality.
Two weeks ago, the Department of Public Health had added 446 new cases.
The Northeast Health District includes Oconee and Clarke counties. The other counties are Barrow, Elbert, Greene, Jackson, Madison, Morgan, Oglethorpe, and Walton.
Although the Department of Public Health is releasing a report only weekly, it is gathering data on a daily basis, and the weekly report includes a data file containing case counts each day, ending on a Wednesday.
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The Department of Public Health switched to weekly, rather than daily, case counts in April in part because of a concern that its counts under-represent the actual number of cases.
At-home test results are not included in the electronic reporting system.
The average number of added cases per day in the last seven days ending on Sept. 28 in the Northeast Health District was 27.9, compared with 141.6 on Sept. 21 and 63.7 on Sept. 14.
An examination of the data for the 10 counties last week showed that the increase was due largely to the extraordinary number of cases added in both Oconee and Clarke counties. Morgan County also reported an unusually large increase in cases.
Oconee County added 307 cases in the seven days ending on Sept. 21. The county added 21 cases in the seven days ending on Sept. 14, and it added only 12 cases in the week ending on Wednesday (Sept. 28).
Clarke County added 205 new cases in the seven days ending on Sept. 21. It had added 111 new cases in the week ending on Sept. 14, and it added 41 cases in the week ending on Wednesday.
The unstandardized rolling average of added cases in Oconee County on Sept. 21 was 44.4. It had been 2.9 on Sept. 14. On this past Wednesday, it was 2.0.
That average shot up on Sept. 21 because of the addition of 277 cases that day. Nine had been added the day before.
In Clarke County, the same pattern emerged.
The unstandardized seven-day rolling average of added cases on Sept. 21 was 30.9. compared with 15.9 on Sept. 14. On this past Wednesday, it was 6.4.
The Department of Public Health reported that Clarke County added 150 cases on Sept. 21, compared with 21 the day before.
The Department of Public Health records both the date when cases are reported to it and the date the symptoms first manifest themselves.
For Oconee County on Sept. 21, only one case had been recorded by the Department of Public Health. In Clarke county, only 12 cases were recorded for Sept. 21.
When the Department of Public Health did not make a correction for the large number of cases added last week, I went back to the symptoms data file for Oconee County and compared the cases from Sept. 14 with those from Sept. 21.
The large number of cases added that week were spread out across many months. One new case was added as far back as Jan. 10 of 2022.
Most of the added cases were more recent, from the June 1 period until Sept. 21.
The evidence is that the unusual number of cases added on Sept. 21 represent a data filing error, rather than a data recording error, meaning that the cases were real but had not been reported and thus counted until Sept. 21 for some reason.
The confirmed death in Clarke County reported on Sept. 28 was of a 68-year-old male without a chronic condition.
The remaining five confirmed deaths from COVID-19 reported in the Wednesday Department of Public Health report were in Elbert County (1), Madison County (1), and Walton County (3).
The 10-county Northeast Health District now has 1,666 confirmed COVID-19 deaths since February of 2020, or 314.3 deaths per 100,000 population.
The Northeast Health District also reported 180 “probable” deaths from COVID-19 on Wednesday, up from 179 a week earlier.
Clarke County now has 233 confirmed deaths from COVID-19, or 181.1 per 100,000 population, the lowest rate in the 10-county Northeast Health District.
Oconee County, with 101 deaths from the disease, has 241.6 deaths per 100,000 population. That is the second lowest rate among counties in the District.
Elbert County, with 87 deaths from COVID-19, has 443.0 death per 100,000 population, the highest rate in the Northeast Health District.
The Oconee County “probable” death from the disease is its 13th. The Department of Public Health does not provide any details about the “probable” deaths, of which there are now 180 in the District.
Focus On Hospital Reports
In its announcement in April, the Georgia Department of Public Health said “Given the number of at-home COVID tests that do not get reported, there is now a greater focus on other indicators.”
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The announcement directed attention to the data released by the Georgia Hospital Association and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.
The hospital data available for the area include the 10 counties in the Northeast Health District plus Hart and Franklin counties. The data are dominated by St. Mary’s and Piedmont Regional in Athens-Clarke County.
Neither Oconee County Schools nor the University of Georgia is any longer reporting COVID-19 cases.
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The Centers for Disease Control and prevention rates the Transmission Rate of COVID-19 in Oconee County as of Friday as moderate and of Clarke County as Substantial, based on total number of new cases per 100,000 population in the last seven days and the percentage of Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests that are positive during the last seven days, ending on last Thursday.
Last week, both Oconee County and Clarke County were rated as High in transmission.
The CDC now lists only 37 out of the state’s 159 counties as having a High transmission rate.
That number has dropped from 141 out of 159 on Sept. 9.
The CDC scale is High (Red), Substantial (Orange), Moderate (Yellow), or Low (Blue).