Percentage of COVID-19 positive tests appears to climb

  • COVID-19

The local COVID count continued its slow and steady rise last week as a total of 146 confirmed cases were reported for Lumpkin County as of Monday afternoon.
That’s a jump from the 138 listed by the state this time last week, with 31 reported hospitalizations. The most recent count includes a newly reported death, which brings the total of Lumpkin County fatalities to four. This most recent case was a woman in her 60s who was listed as having underlying conditions at the time of her death, according to health officials.
While the overall increase of coronavirus cases isn’t particularly precipitous, the same can’t be said for state-wide numbers as cases and hospitalizations have jumped in recent days.
Northeast Georgia Health Systems spokesman Sean Couch said there’s a couple reasons for that.
“There are likely many factors at play, but it’s no coincidence that the recent spike in cases comes after major shelter-in-place restrictions were lifted on June 11,” he said.
Couch added that increased testing will naturally result in a higher count, but the percentage of positive tests has climbed along with it.
“When we look across all of our Northeast Georgia Physicians Group offices throughout the region, we’re seeing an upward trend over the last week in average tests performed, daily positives, and the average positive percentage – which went from 10 percent to 15 percent,” he said.
Last week Governor Brian Kemp stressed the use of masks but stopped short of mandating their use.
“We shouldn’t need a mask mandate for people to do the right thing,” he said at a news conference Wednesday, according to Capitol Beat.
Couch said the pandemic has become highly political, but it doesn’t have to be.
“At some point during the past few months, the pandemic became such an emotional, political and divisive topic for many,” he said. “We get it – people are stressed, and it can quickly seem like the only options to respond to COVID-19 is either lockdowns or a free-for-all. But there’s a middle ground that allows us to go about our daily lives.”
That middle ground, said Couch, would be following five simple steps:
• Avoid gatherings of 25 or more people when possible, especially when they include people who are in high-risk categories.
• Maintain 6 feet of distance from others when possible.
• Wear masks in public places.
• Wash your hands regularly and cover your cough.
• Seek care and testing if you don’t feel well.
Free testing at the Lumpkin County Health Department has been extended past the July 1 cut-off date and will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Wednesday.
Meanwhile Couch said there’s really no way to predict what the COVID count could look like this time next month since there are so many unknowns right now.
“It’s been tough to find models that can accurately project COVID-19 activity, because we believe now that so much depends on how well people social distance and take other precautions,” he said. “And those things are hard to measure or predict.”