COVID-19 cases coming down, but still around

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   Statewide data provided by the Georgia Department of Public Health indicates that the spread of COVID-19 is on the decline, but the pandemic still looms as local communities try their best to return to normal.

   Positive cases in the state decreased 30.4% from Sept. 21 to Sept. 28, and the figures are down 67.7% from the state’s peak on July 24. Those numbers went back up 3.5% the week ending Oct. 3.

   Habersham County was listed on a DPH graphic as one of the counties showing a decrease of more than 5%.

   The statewide positivity rate is 6.3% as of Sept. 28, before rising to 7% in the last data collection. Daily hospitalizations in Georgia are down 7%.

   Habersham County’s 7-day moving average of new cases was at 19.6 at the beginning of that data cycle, shooting up from 6.0 just a week earlier and matching the county’s highest moving average for the entire pandemic on April 30. Preliminary numbers for the last two weeks show that number coming down to 12.0 as of Monday.

   “While the number of cases continue to fluctuate slightly, the overall case numbers are decreasing in most areas of the state from the higher number in July,” said Dave Palmer, spokesman for District 2 Public Health. “We continue to caution everyone to remain vigilant and continue to strictly follow the precautions advised by CDC. These include wearing a face covering while in public places, washing your hands often, and maintaining a safe distance from other people. If a person is sick, they should stay home and away from others. This includes maintaining a safe distance from individuals in their own household.”

   Demorest’s city offices reported a COVID-19 outbreak Tuesday, causing the cancellation of their scheduled meeting Tuesday night. 

   City Manager Kim Simonds said one out of the five employees have been confirmed positive.

   Simonds said any city employees that test negative will be in the office today. Otherwise it will be closed until further notice.

   Simonds said the office would be sanitized and disinfected Tuesday afternoon. “Our lobby may remain closed a little longer,” she said.

   Positive cases statewide among school-age children declined by half from July 20 to Sept. 7, but they went up slightly with students returning to school near that time.

   Habersham County Schools have had the virus under control so far, reporting just five students positive this week after showing nine on Sept. 28. There are just two staff members who are confirmed positive, making it a total of seven out of nearly 8,000 students and staff.

   Statewide, outbreaks that were on the highest rise in late September were at schools (28 outbreaks from Sept. 20-26) and non-cafeteria workplaces (18). Neither of those categories had any new outbreaks the following week ending Oct. 3, however.

   Outbreaks at churches and hospitals were up slightly, while nursing home outbreaks are down after having by far the worst cases throughout the summer. There have been a total of 750 nursing home outbreaks in Georgia during the pandemic.

   “As people return to activities like going back to school, attending church, or eating at restaurants, it is important to remember that a person could have the virus and not have symptoms,” Palmer said. “This means they could unknowingly be spreading the virus. We must stay on guard and follow the steps above to protect ourselves.”

   Staff writer Eric Pereira contributed to this report.