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Public health officials report four more Grady County residents have died from COVID-19, bringing the total number of residents to succumb to the disease to 12 since the pandemic began. Of those four, only one had underlying issues, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health information. A 77-year-old person not identified by race or gender in the D.P.H. information, was listed as having an underlying condition as well as COVID-19.
The three other Grady countians who died included two females, one 90 or above, and the other 79, and one male age 84, all white, according to D.P.H.
The number of positive cases in Grady County rose by only 41 since last Tuesday, compared to an increase of 49 the previous week. Grady County has a total of 669 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
According to Emory University’s COVID-19 Health Equity Interactive Dashboard online, despite the lower number of new cases, there remains cause for concern in Grady County.
“As of 8/31/2020, the daily average of new COVID-19 cases in Grady County numbered 26 case(s) per 100,000 residents. In comparison, the daily average in Georgia was 20 case(s) per 100,000 and in the United States was 13 case(s) per 100,000.
“As of 8/31/2020, the daily average of new COVID-19 deaths in Grady County numbered 2.3 death(s) per 100,000 residents. In comparison, the daily average in Georgia was 0.6 death(s) per 100,000 and in the United States was 0.3 death(s) per 100,000.”
Grady General Hospital was treating seven positive patients as of Tuesday, while Archbold Memorial Hospital in Thomasville had 12 and Mitchell County Hospital had one, according to Ashley Griffin, spokeswoman for Archbold.
The visitation policy at Grady General may undergo revisions later this week, and hospital administrator Crystal Wells encourages anyone who wants to visit someone in the hospital to check with the medical facility first.
In recent months, some have speculated that hospitals are inflating the number of people who die from COVID-19 in order to earn reimbursement from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
When asked about this, Griffin stated, “Archbold complies with all industry-standard coding practices, and would not expect that any of our physicians or hospitals would falsify patient records or be motivated by money to do so.”
Griffin says COVID-19 is expensive to treat, hence the increased reimbursement. “The acuity of COVID-19 inpatients is much higher and the average length of stay is significantly longer, which results in hospitals using more staff, supplies and medications to provide appropriate care. This results in significant additional cost of care,” she says.
For those who want to be checked for COVID-19, the Grady County Health Department is offering free testing at its location every Tuesday and Friday in September from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m., and appointments are encouraged by calling the hotline at (229) 352-6567 or by finding a link online at either covid.19.dph.ga.gov or southwestgeorgiapublichealth.org.
In Thomas, Decatur and Mitchell counties, the numbers of new cases in the last week, according to D.P.H. information online, were 72, 63 and 20 respectively with two, one and three deaths.
In neighboring Florida counties, the increases continue to be high, with Leon and Gadsden counties having 514 and 150 new cases, respectively, and five and one more deaths in the last week.
In Georgia, there were a total of 5,733 deaths from COVID-19, 471 in the last week, and a total of 272,697 positive cases, 14,343 in the last week.
Recent COVID-19 testing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.) suggest that anyone who has been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 and is not experiencing symptoms, does not need to be tested. Based on current data and epidemiologic information from all 159 counties, the Georgia Department of Public Health’s testing guidance has not changed, and the Department is continuing to encourage contacts of COVID-19 positive individuals to be tested:
· at any point during their self-quarantine if they develop symptoms, OR
· on day 10 of quarantine for those who remain asymptomatic.
It is also important that people remain in quarantine for the full 14 days even if they test negative at some point during the quarantine period. A negative test does not shorten quarantine but helps determine who else may have been exposed to the virus.
Testing asymptomatic people during their quarantine period helps identify those who are infected with the virus, their need to be in isolation, and the need to notify and quarantine their close contacts.