Report from White House says Georgia is seeing “widespread and expanding” spread of COVID-19

Report from White House says Georgia is seeing “widespread and expanding” spread of COVID-19

ATLANTA — The White House’s coronavirus task force announced that Georgia’s COVID-19 policies aren’t getting the job done.

It is also warning that the state is continuing to see "widespread and expanding community viral spread."

In a report obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the task force outlined several steps to stop the spread, including a statewide mask mandate, the closure of businesses like bars, nightclubs and gyms, and ramping up testing and contact tracing.

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According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, during the week of 8/3-8/9, Georgia’s statewide case numbers decreased by 7%. They also included the following statistics:

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that Georgia has experienced a 22% decrease in case numbers over the past two weeks relative to the two weeks prior to that, and that we have seen a downward trajectory of cases for two weeks now.
  • The highest % of case numbers still come from the high population counties in metro Atlanta (Fulton, Gwinnett, DeKalb, Cobb have the highest case numbers) but these counties are actually experiencing decreases now.
  • As of Aug. 13, the state reported over 1.9 million COVID-19 tests. Eight of the last nine days reporting more than 25,000 tests per day. Average of nearly 31,000 per day over the last nine days.
  • DPH is operating 180 SPOCs, including mobile and pop-up locations statewide.
  • The number of specimens collected at DPH SPOCs has now passed 750,000.
  • Positivity rates are decreasing from 11.86% on 7/27 to 10.98% on 8/3 to 9.5% on 8/9/20.

The department also said there are some areas of concern:

Emerging hotspots: DPH Is seeing decreases in many other areas, but we see growth and/or high transmission in rural middle GA (Bleckley, Appling, Wayne, Taylor, Crawford, etc.), NW GA (driven partially by many outbreaks in manufacturing facilities), east central GA and areas of south Georgia. These increases are driven by ongoing community transmission as well as outbreaks

Increasing Outbreaks: For the week of Aug. 6-12, there were 110 outbreaks. They are occurring in settings where people are physically congregating and underscore the need for distancing and source control.

  • Long-term care facilities 23
  • Schools/school athletic teams 14
  • Offices/workplaces 14
  • Manufacturing facilities 13
  • Prisons/jails 13
  • Churches 8
  • Restaurants 4

Outbreaks were also documented in hospitals/outpatient facilities, daycares and grocery stores.

We reached out to Gov. Brian Kemp’s office for comment on the report. His office sent us the following statement:

“We continue to optimize and maximize our testing resources, as evidenced by bringing on our newest lab partner Mako, the mega-site at Hartsfield-Jackson, and our use of the National Guard to support SPOCS and mobile testing. As of August 13th, the state has reported over 1.9 million COVID-19 PCR tests, with 8 out of the last 9 days reporting more than 25,000 tests per day. The GPHL (Georgia Public Health Lab) has gone through extensive efforts to optimize their throughput by adding staff and maximizing physical space. The state stood up the university system lab consortium back in the spring to make sure we were using all available resources. As we head into fall and colleges reopen, many of those campus labs will be doing surveillance testing on their campuses.

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“In addition to the federal materials that are being provided to nursing homes for rapid testing, local and district public health offices continue to partner with long-term care facilities in their communities to provide testing. Our current executive order also provides for enhanced protections for these facilities and both DCH and CMS have provided detailed guidance to facilities on how best to stop the spread of COVID-19. The state has also provided equipment (fogging machines, supplies) to facilities who wished to replicate the infection control missions done by the National Guard earlier in the year. HB 987 - which was negotiated by our office, supported by the Governor, and signed earlier this year - also implemented further oversight measures and required baseline testing for long-term care facilities.

“DCH has also completed in-person inspections of all nursing homes in the state, as required by CMS.

“The state, in consultation with the provider community and CMS, will soon be releasing further guidance on protecting our most vulnerable populations.

“The DPH lab has been working around the clock with multiple shifts since early summer. Nancy should be able to provide further details if you’d like.

“Governor Kemp continues to rely on data, science, and the public health advice of Dr. Kathleen Toomey and her team in our state’s ongoing battle against COVID-19. As the Governor has said many times before, this fight is about protecting the lives – and livelihoods – of all Georgians.”

Analysts say Georgia’s COVID-19 numbers are plateauing, to begin dropping