Georgia reported its second-highest daily count of coronavirus-related deaths on Tuesday, in what health officials said was a consequence of the elevated number of infections the state has seen since June.
The day in which a death is reported in Georgia is often not the day it occurs, and it’s not unusual to see a burst of deaths reported just after a weekend. But Tuesday’s total of 78 was below only the 100 Georgia deaths reported on April 7.
“It is due in part to decreased reporting over the weekend, but just as we’ve seen increased cases and hospitalizations, we are seeing the number of deaths increase, also,” wrote Department of Public Health spokesperson Nancy Nydam in an email.
Nydam couldn’t immediately say when the deaths reported Tuesday had happened. The numbers pushed Georgia’s 7-day and 14-day trend on deaths to their highest point since late June.
The state’s overall number of confirmed infections on Tuesday was just below 149,000, while the total number of deaths rose to at least 3,254. Experts have said that not all infections or deaths from the respiratory disease are detected.
The number of people in the hospital with confirmed COVID-19 infections dipped on Tuesday, staying below 3,200 after 24 straight days of increases added more than 2,000 people to Georgia’s daily hospitalization total.
Gov. Brian Kemp, in an interview Tuesday with Fox and Friends, expressed hope that Georgia’s case count might be plateauing. The state’s seven-day average of cases Monday and Tuesday fell from the all-time peak on Sunday, while its 14-day average is still climbing.
“We’re seeing some positive signs, but we’re definitely not out of the woods yet,” the Republican governor said.
Kemp on Tuesday renewed his call for Georgians to “Do four things for four weeks” to combat virus transmission, including voluntary mask wearing, social distancing, hand-washing, and following current state rules such as limiting crowd sizes.
Despite a court fight by Kemp to prevent Atlanta from ordering mask-wearing and otherwise going beyond his executive orders, other local jurisdictions continue to adopt mask orders. On Tuesday, DeKalb County commissioners approved an amended mask ordinance that requires people older than 8 to wear a face covering in public.
County CEO Michael Thurmond said in a statement that the amended ordinance is “consistent” with Kemp’s executive order. The county will allow “conscientious objectors” to opt out if they present a sworn statement in court that says they won’t wear a mask for health, religious or ethical reasons.
The ordinance says a written warning will be issued for the first violation, while a second violation will require attendance of a COVID-19 prevention class. Failure to attend the class is punishable by a $250 fine.
In Columbus, a judge ordered people to wear masks in some government buildings, with the city-county government saying the judge was allowed to do so under Kemp’s order that otherwise bans local officials from requiring mask usage on public property.