ATLANTA - Some grim perspective as the average number of deaths per day in Georgia from COVID-19 for the last two weeks has exceeded 100 for the first time ever and the number of confirmed cases has now surpassed 700,000, according to state data.
As of 3 p.m. Thursday, the Georgia Department of Public Health reports 11,511 confirmed deaths and 1,378 probable deaths since the start of the pandemic. That is an average of 101 confirmed deaths per day for the last 14 days or 1,411 confirmed deaths in the same time period. Just over 14.2% of all confirmed deaths in Georgia have happened since the New Year, according to state data.
While hospitalizations remain high and facilities remain crowded, there has been some slight relief this week. The current COVID-19 patient population was 5,332 as of Thursday afternoon, according to the state. That is down by about 300 patients from the same time last week. The GDPH reports 31% of all hospital patients are suffering from COVID-19 symptoms. There has been a total of 47,680 coronavirus patients hospitalized in Georgia since the start of the pandemic, with just under 12% of all COVID-19 hospitalizations happening since the start of the New Year.
The state’s data shows that about one in 12 Georgians has tested positive for COVID-19 since last March.
As of Thursday afternoon, the GDPH said there have been 701,308 confirmed coronavirus cases. That works out to be an average of 6,531 cases per day for the last two weeks or 91,440 total cases in the same time period. About 19.2% of the total confirmed COVID-19 cases have been reported since the start of the New Year.
Those confirmed cases do not count antigen cases. The Georgia Department of Public Health tracks those separately. As of Thursday afternoon, 143,491 positive antigen tests have been reported. More than 41,000 antigen cases have been added to the state's data since the New Year.
Georgia officials have now identified five cases of a COVID-19 variant in the state, raising the urgency to get people vaccinated.
State Department of Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey reported the latest figure at a news conference Thursday. It’s up from one variant case earlier this month.
The jump is not surprising. Mutations of the virus are emerging quickly, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said a new version first identified in the United Kingdom may become dominant in the U.S. by March. Although it doesn’t cause more severe illness, it spreads much more easily and will therefore lead to more hospitalizations and deaths, according to the CDC.
The current vaccines seem to provide protection against new variants, but health experts warn that the potential for a variant that eludes current vaccines increases the longer it takes to vaccinate people.
The state has also exceeded a half-million COVID-19 vaccines given out. As of 6 p.m. Wednesday, the Georgia Department of Public Health reports the state has administered 535,920 vaccines. That is over half the total number of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that have been shipped to the state. About one in 20 people in Georgia have now received a COVID-19 vaccine.
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Toomey said Thursday health departments in Georgia are now scheduling residents for a required second vaccine dose at the time they administer the first dose.
Gov. Brian Kemp said the state will have its full weekly allotment of 120,000 doses for distribution starting next week. CVS and Walgreens were taking 40,000 doses each week for use at long-term care facilities, but Kemp said they no longer need additional supply for that effort.
Georgia’s vaccine rollout has gotten off to a slow start, but Kemp said providers were getting better at administering the vaccines, and the state was working on remaining issues.
Right now, only health care workers and Georgia residents 65 and older can receive a vaccine. Learn more at FOX5Atlanta.com/vaccine.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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