Athens government questions DPH reporting on coronavirus deaths

It’s been eight days since 10 deaths were reported at one Athens nursing home. Yet the local government is still left with unanswered questions.

The mayor and commission held a virtual meeting last night with the state Department of Public Health District 10 director to find those answers.

"This issue is really eroding credibility all around," said Commissioner Jerry NeSmith.

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NeSmith is unsettled by the discrepancy in coronavirus deaths reported by the state Department of Public Health.

The mayor and commission say they learned of the deaths at PruittHealth Grandview from a news report and not from the DPH.

As of Wednesday, 12 deaths are reported in Clarke County. That number does not reflect those at the nursing home.

"If someone is in a hospital, it still goes by county of residence," said Stephen Goggans, interim District 10 health director of the DPH. "When hospitals report their test numbers, you have to remember that the numbers of the folks they're testing in their facility or their clinic, those people could live in any county in Georgia."

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Goggans also attributes delays in reporting to labs getting the results and the DPH vetting the data and sometimes correcting a county of residence on file.

But the local government says it wants more immediate answers.

"If we can get somebody to investigate those specific 10 deaths... we need to get those numbers straightened out because right now the Clarke County numbers are not credible to the public," NeSmith said.

The DPH is set to launch a tracker for cases and deaths that's specific to long-term care facilities.

Goggans says it will help reduce reporting errors.

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Know how the COVID-19 outbreak is impacting Georiga

• Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least twenty seconds.

• If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

• Stay home when you are sick.

• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces


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