ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia is nearing 8,000 deaths from COVID-19 as infections from the novel coronavirus continue to rise.
The broadest measure of COVID-19 cases, which includes rapid antigen tests as well as the more precise genetic tests, shows the number of confirmed and probable cases was 8.5% higher in the week that ended Friday compared with the week before, according to a report issued Monday by the Georgia Department of Public Health.… Read More
By JEFF AMY, Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia is nearing 8,000 deaths from COVID-19 as infections from the novel coronavirus continue to rise.
The broadest measure of COVID-19 cases, which includes rapid antigen tests as well as the more precise genetic tests, shows the number of confirmed and probable cases was 8.5% higher in the week that ended Friday compared with the week before, according to a report issued Monday by the Georgia Department of Public Health.
In one good sign, though, the number of cases and hospitalizations rose more slowly last week than the week before.
The 7-day rolling average of new cases detected through only genetic tests in Georgia was nearly 1,600 on Monday, 38% higher than at the recent low on Oct. 8. More than 1,400 confirmed COVID-19 patients were hospitalized Monday, up 12% from the recent low in October.
Nearly 363,000 people in Georgia have been confirmed to have the illness as of Monday, and 7,999 confirmed deaths have been recorded. The average number of deaths recorded has been falling in recent weeks, but deaths typically come only after new cases are detected and people are hospitalized. While most people who contract the coronavirus recover after suffering only mild to moderate symptoms, it can be deadly for older patients and those with other health problems.
Gov. Brian Kemp and his wife are among those in quarantine after being exposed to the virus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state issued guidance saying those who have tested positive for the virus. The agencies say anyone who is sick or in quarantine should inform poll workers when they arrive at a polling place. Such people are supposed to wear a mask, stay 6 feet (2 meters) from others and clean hands before and after voting.
The share of positive tests rose to 7.3% on Monday in Georgia. Experts say that if more than 5% of tests are coming back positive, it suggests that too few tests are being done and many infections may be going undetected. The increasing positivity rate could also be affected by a decline in recent days in genetic tests for the virus, considered the most accurate.
State Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey said Oct. 7 that the state was planning to include positive rapid antigen tests in its daily report, but Georgia has not yet done so.
The state’s report on Monday listed 52 high transmission counties, where the positivity rate has been above 10% in the last two weeks and the number of new cases was above 100 per 100,000 residents during that time. High transmission counties include those that are home to Athens, Carrollton, Dalton, Rome, Valdosta and Warner Robins, as well as the south suburban Atlanta counties of Clayton and Henry.
New cases and hospitalizations in Georgia remain at less than half their July peaks, when the state was ranked worst in the nation. Because the respiratory illness is now spreading so rapidly in other regions,
(Reuters) – Georgia lawmakers are pressing for stronger jail oversight after a Reuters investigation identified hundreds of deaths in the state’s county jails and dangerous lapses in inmate medical care.
David Wilkerson, a Georgia state lawmaker who had been planning new jail legislation for the upcoming January session, said he intends to cite Reuters’ findings in his proposed reforms.
As part of an examination of deaths at more than 500 jails nationwide, Reuters found 272 inmate deaths among 13 large Georgia jails over more than a decade. At least half of the deaths were caused by a medical condition or illness, and a quarter by suicide.
The news organization exposed healthcare lapses at the jail in Savannah. Another report explored the 2017 death of Chinedu Efoagui, who died at the Cobb County Adult Detention Center after spending 512 days behind bars without ever being tried on the charges for which he was held.
To read the full investigation, Dying Inside, click https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-jails-deaths
Wilkerson, a Cobb County Democrat, said his proposal will focus on improving mental health care in jails, as well as the disclosure and investigation of in-custody deaths.
“It’s impossible for the jail to investigate themselves. At the end of the day you’re asking someone who did something wrong to look at themselves,” said Wilkerson. “The public trust is not there.”
Wilkerson had begun researching new legislation after the death of Kevil Wingo, a 36-year-old Atlantan who died in the Cobb County jail in 2019. He said he was further moved to propose reforms following the Reuters accounts of Efoagui’s death and others in Georgia jails.
Other state legislators say the spate of jail deaths, particularly involving inmates who had not been convicted of their charges, shows the need for enhanced oversight.
“It is a tragedy. It is malpractice on the part of the state of Georgia, and on the counties,” said Mary Margaret Oliver, a Georgia Democratic lawmaker and former magistrate court judge.
Oliver said substandard mental health care in jails must be tackled when lawmakers convene in January. “Jails are significantly the largest mental health facility in the state,” she said. “And we are not attending to the combination of mental illness, addiction, and significant physical health issues.”
The death of Efoagui, a 38-year-old Nigerian native, highlights such concerns. The software programmer was arrested after suffering a mental breakdown during a traffic stop. As his physical and mental health deteriorated behind bars, he begged for help, but died of a pulmonary embolism.
Many of Efoagui’s friends from Nigeria were unaware of the details of his death after he moved to the United States in 2012 to pursue the American dream. They expressed shock when they learned the full story in the Reuters account.
“Mental illness and the inability to post bond should not cost a life,” tweeted Ogechukwu Eze. “Any life.”
(Reporting by Linda So. Editing by Ronnie Greene)
Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.
ROME, Ga. (AP) — A northwest Georgia school system is sending all its students home to take classes virtually for 10 days because of coronavirus infections and quarantines.
The Rome school system said Tuesday that with more than 600 students, faculty and staff members isolated with infections or quarantined because of exposure, the district of 6,400 students will switch to all-online instruction Wednesday through Nov. 6, assuming cases have declined by then.Read More
Without masks and a vaccine, we could reach Herd Immunity from COVID-19, but deaths would skyrocket. We break down the science of it.
The claim: Florida, Georgia, Idaho, South Dakota and Tennessee are now mask-free
A viral meme claiming five states are do not have facial covering requirements has been circulating on social media. In the image, two women posing in front of the Golden Gate Bridge make the “V” peace sign with their fingers. Text over the image reads, “Florida, Georgia, Idaho, South Dakota and Tennessee are now mask free!”
The Facebook user who posted the image did not return a request for comment.
Similar posts, with several or all of the states listed, have gone viral, as well.
As COVID-19 continues to spread, 33 states have mandated cloth face masks, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say can slow or prevent the virus’ spread.
More: Fact check: What’s true and what’s false about face masks?
Localized mask mandates mean states are not ‘mask-free’
It’s true that none of the five states in the viral meme has statewide mask mandates, but several large cities and counties have implemented their own.
In Florida, Miami-Dade County, Palm Beach County, Tampa and Hillsborough County have mask requirements. However, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order Sept. 25 that took the teeth out of those requirements. Under the order, local governments can not charge fines or penalties for noncompliance with local mask mandates.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who announced Monday that she had tested positive for COVID-19, is mandating the use of face masks in the city. (Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP)
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp previously banned local ordinances requiring masks. On Aug. 15, he revised the order, allowing for local ordinances to protect public health. Atlanta, Savannah, Athens-Clarke County and other large Georgia counties have implemented mask mandates.
Idaho has has allowed employers and local government bodies to enact restrictions to protect public health. The city of Boise, along with at least seven counties in eastern Idaho have mandated masks.
South Dakota: More than a month after Brookings passed mask mandate, community still torn
In South Dakota, the city of Brookings — home of South Dakota State University — requires masks to be worn in public. Mayors of other large cities like Sioux Falls, as well as some counties have urged the public to wear masks, but stopped short of issuing an ordinance, according to previous reporting by the USA TODAY Network.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and state health officials have urged residents to “wear face coverings in public places.”
Tennessee: White House says TN mask mandate ‘must be implemented’
Lee has left it up to counties to decide whether to implement a mask mandate, and Tennessee’s major cities and counties have done so, including Nashville and Davidson County, and Knox, Hamilton and Shelby counties, which are home to Knoxville, Chattanooga and Memphis, respectively. Sullivan County, which houses the Tri-Cities area of Johnson City, Kingsport and Bristol
ATLANTA (AP) — COVID-19 infections are rising more rapidly in Georgia, in line with a national trend of increasing cases.
The broadest measure of COVID-19 cases, which includes rapid antigen tests as well as the more precise genetic tests, shows the number of confirmed and probable cases was 18% higher in the week that ended Friday compared to the week before, according to a report issued Monday by the Georgia Department of Public Health.… Read More
At least 19 women at a Georgia immigration facility are now alleging that a doctor performed, or pressured them to undergo, “overly aggressive” or “medically unnecessary” surgery without their consent, including procedures that impact their ability to have children, according to a new report and other records obtained by the Times.
The new report was written by a team of nine board-certified OBGYNs and two nursing experts, each affiliated with academic medical centers — including those at Northwestern University, Baylor College and Creighton University — who reviewed more than 3,200 pages of records obtained for the 19 women. It comes just a month after a whistleblowing nurse at the Irwin County Detention Center set into motion a series of congressional inquiries and federal investigations into immigrant women’s care at the facility, which is overseen by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The 19 women were all patients of Dr. Mahendra Amin, the primary gynecologist for the Irwin County Detention Center, the report says. The records, including pathology and radiology reports, prescriptions, surgical impressions and consent forms, sworn declarations and telephone interviews, detail and support the women’s allegations of medical abuse by the doctor, according to the report.
The medical experts found an “alarming pattern” in which Amin allegedly subjected the women to unwarranted gynecological surgeries, in most cases performed without consent, according to the 5-page report, which was submitted Thursday to members of Congress.
“Both Dr. Amin and the referring detention facility took advantage of the vulnerability of women in detention to pressure them to agree to overly aggressive, inappropriate, and unconsented medical care,” the report states.
The medical team conducted its review in tandem with a coalition of advocates and lawyers representing the women that has been investigating the allegations, from Project South, the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, Georgia Detention Watch, the South Georgia Immigrant Support Network, the Southern Poverty Law Center Immigrant Freedom Initiative, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and Innovation Law Lab.
Many alleged victims, the vast majority of whom are Black and Latino, from the Caribbean, Africa and Latin America, are coming forward for the first time to report their allegations of mistreatment since a nurse at the facility filed the 27-page whistleblower complaint last month, along with advocacy group Project South. The complaint to the Homeland Security Inspector General in turn prompted national outcry, congressional inquiries, and federal investigations.
Women under Amin’s care were administered birth control and underwent procedures without their consent, including to remove their reproductive organs, such as the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes, according to the report and interviews by the Times with women whose cases were reviewed by the medical team.
By JEFF AMY, Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) — The number of COVID-19 cases is rising in Georgia, although infections in the state are not climbing as fast as those nationwide.
Even with relatively few infections reported Monday, the state’s seven-day average is close to 1,300, more than 10% above the recent bottom on Oct. 8. The number of people hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 has also been rising for a week, crossing back above 1,300 on Monday.
“Things are not going well for Georgia,” Amber Schmidtke, an epidemiologist who writes a daily analysis of Georgia’s number, wrote Monday.
She and other experts fear another jump like the one seen in June, in part because cases and hospitalizations never fell as low as they did in the spring.
One issue is that Georgia is still not including probable cases in its daily reports. Those cases are mostly diagnosed from rapid antigen tests, and many other states are counting them as positives. Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey said recently that the state is working on a plan to report probable cases daily.
In numbers released Monday, the state Department of Public Health said Georgia had recorded 1,167 probable cases in the past week.
A ray of light for Georgia in the darkening picture is that the positivity rate has stayed level over the last two weeks at just above 6%, even as the number of DNA-based tests rose modestly, on average.
Georgia’s transmission rates still remain below those being seen nationwide, with the state ranking 35th per capita among states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico over the last two weeks, according to data collected by the The Associated Press.
The number of counties that the state lists as “emerging counties of interest,” where the respiratory illness may be spreading the most rapidly, rose from 43 last week to 56 this week. That included an increase in the number of suburban Atlanta counties on the list from six to 11, with Cobb County staying on the list. Fulton County dropped off that list this week, while DeKalb and Gwinnett counties stayed off it. Also on the list are Bibb County including Macon, Lowndes County including Valdosta, Whitfield County including Dalton and Columbia County in suburban Augusta.
Georgia has recorded more than 340,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus since March. As of Monday, the state had confirmed 7,657 COVID-19 deaths, remaining on pace for 10,000 this year.
While most people who contract the coronavirus recover after suffering only mild to moderate symptoms, it can be deadly for older patients and those with other health problems.
Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.
Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.