State and federal health departments are reporting increases in the number of new COVID-19 cases.
In Georgia, the Department of Public Health logged 23,064 new cases on Dec. 27. That compares to 725 new cases on Dec. 7. During that same 20 days, the positivity rate went from 9.9% to 10.1%.
The rising number of people testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 is reflected in reports at Augusta area hospitals after holding steady or slightly declining over the past month.
Augusta University Health had stopped the practice of posting a daily report to its Jagwire website on Dec. 3 when it reported 28 inpatients. On Dec. 27, they had 35 COVID-19 inpatients. On Dec. 28, the number rose to 43. Updates will now be posted on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Dr. Rodger MacArthur, an infectious disease specialist at AU Health, said it is important to differentiate between increasing hospitalizations and rising new cases.
“In a one-month period of time, comparing now to a month previously, the number of cases have gone up eight-fold. In other words, there’s been a doubling of cases every 10 days over the last 30 days. But across Georgia, the number of hospitalizations in that same 30-day period of time, has only doubled,” he explained. “It’s still serious if we have a doubling of cases in the hospital. That’s more staff that’s going to be involved in taking care of these individuals. It’s more intensive care unit work along with longer stays, whether it’s in the intensive care unit or on the floor. So, it’s important to focus on the cases, but realize that doubling in 30 days is not a reason to panic. It’s not like going up eight-fold in the hospital in that same period of time.”
University Hospital admitted no new inpatients on Dec. 19. New admissions were in the single digits for the next four days but jumped to 13 on Christmas Eve. Over the next three days, a total of 37 new patients were admitted. There are now 69 patients hospitalized there’s with COVID-19.
Additionally, at least 20 people were waiting on their test results, a number that is also growing. The hospital was also receiving flu patients who required hospitalization.
The increases prompted the Hospital’s Emergency Department to begin restricting the number of visitors being allowed with patients to just one visitor per patient.
“Keep in mind that the number of new positives is much higher than the number admitted. I don’t have exact numbers because they are spread out across the ED and Prompt Cares,” said hospital spokeswoman Rebecca Sylvester. “The good news is that the percentage of admissions is lower than previous spikes, which indicates a somewhat milder strain, but a terribly infectious one.”
The Veterans Administration has set up a website with daily updates on COVID-19 cases nationwide and at each individual facility.
According to the website, cases at the Charlie Norwood Medical Center, Uptown Division went from 21 active cases on Dec. 7 to 90 active cases on Dec. 28. However, spokesman William Martin said that number how many positive cases have been identified among veteran outpatients, veteran inpatients, and Augusta VA employees. He said they have just six patients admitted with the virus.
According to the New York Times Corona Virus Tracker in Richmond County had 204 new cases on Dec. 27 That means the seven-day average number of new cases in Richmond County was 84. That is a 30% increase over the day before.