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COVID-19 deaths spike in Georgia as Augusta-Aiken area tops 1,000



AUGUSTA, Ga. – Georgia saw another spike in COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday and the Aiken-Augusta area crossed a grim milestone of 1,000 deaths from the pandemic even as cases continued to stay low.

Georgia suffered 84 new deaths for a toll of 16,607 and added 1,089 new cases to reach 852,395, the Department of Public Health reported.

Richmond County saw 10 new cases for 19,187 total and Columbia County had 10 more for 10,750. Only two other counties saw new cases, with two in Burke for 1,720 and one in Glascock for 143. All other counties were unchanged: McDuffie at 1,615, Jefferson at 1,553, Screven at 798, Jenkins at 716, Wilkes at 666, Lincoln at 498, Warren at 367 and Taliaferro at 100.

Richmond County suffered three deaths for 388 total, McDuffie lost a patient for 39 and Jefferson County saw a new death for 58, raising the area’s toll to 1,003.

Georgia Public Health got the results of 15,989 tests, of which 6.81% were positive, well below the overall rate of 10.28%, which dropped slightly, according to an analysis by the Augusta Chronicle. The seven-day average for new cases rose from 940.86 to 976.43, levels the state saw before the second surge last summer, the analysis showed.

Georgia is still providing limited information on its COVID-19 vaccination program but reported Wednesday that it has given 3,779,690 shots from the 4,729,100 doses it has been allocated so far, boosted by an additional 148,000 doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Georgia Pubic Health has given 80% of the supply it had on hand and the state was averaging 44,494 shots a day through Wednesday, according to Chronicle analysis.

University Hospital was back up to 16 COVID-19 inpatients, five more than Tuesday, after admitting five more patients and discharging none, spokeswoman Rebecca Sylvester said.

AU Health System held steady at 10 patients in the hospital and recorded an additional 12 positive tests for 26,011 since the pandemic began, spokeswoman Christen Engel said.

Doctors Hospital of Augusta dropped one to seven patients in the hospital and remained at 774 cases total, spokesman Kaden Jacobs said.

Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta was unchanged at 1,810 cases and 86 deaths, with 13,244 fully vaccinated veterans and employees, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

South Carolina added 604 new cases to reach 465,142 with 19 deaths for 8,075, the Department of Health and Environmental Control reported. Aiken County saw eight new cases for 12,481 and Edgefield County had two more for 2,483. Neither county had a new death and they remained at 174 and 28 respectively.

The state got the results of 17,211 tests, of which 3.51% were positive, nearly half the overall rate of 6.88%, which fell slightly, according to Chronicle analysis. The seven-day average for new cases also fell, from 543 to 532, the analysis showed.