AUGUSTA, Ga. – Georgia and South Carolina got good news in lower new COVID-19 cases on Friday and fewer new deaths, including none in the Aiken-Augusta area. But federal health officials warned that cases nationally have begun to creep back up and levels are still high for both.
Georgia added 2,208 new cases to reach 814,820 and topped 15,000 deaths with 18 new for a toll of 15,007, the Department of Public Health reported. Richmond County had 47 new for 18,585 total and Columbia County saw 14 more for 10,448. All other counties saw single-digit increases: five in Burke for 1,663, one in McDuffie for 1,573, one in Jefferson for 1,535, seven in Screven for 783, one in Jenkins for 701, and two in Warren for 361. All other counties were unchanged: Wilkes at 644, Lincoln at 485, Glascock at 139 and Taliaferro at 94.
With no new deaths, the area’s toll remained at 915.
But during a White House briefing Friday, officials warned they were seeing a tick up in some numbers. At 66,350 new cases a day, the seven-day average was rising even from their previous briefing on Wednesday, said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of he Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While the numbers have come down from their peaks in January, “the latest data suggests that these declines may be stalling, potentially leveling off at still a very high number,” she said. “We at CDC consider this a very concerning shift in the trajectory.”
That still leaves the country in a risky spot, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Chief Medical Advisor to President Biden.
“If we plateau at 70,000 (new cases a day), we are at that very precarious position that we were right before the fall surge, where anything that could perturb that could give us another surge,” he said.
They both urged people to continue to use preventive measures to limit the spread of infections.
Still, Georgia is seeing declines in its numbers, Georgia Public Health got the results of 28,965 tests, of which 7.62% were positive, well below the overall positive rate of 10.68%, which dropped slightly, according to an analysis by The Augusta Chronicle. The seven-day average for new cases, dropped from 2,290.71 to 1,980.14, the lowest level it has been since Nov. 15, the analysis found.
Georgia has administered 1,885,179 of the 2,317,115 doses it had received as of Thursday night, or 81.36%, Chronicle analysis of public health data found. Georgia was averaging 37,963 shots a day through Thursday.
University Hospital dropped to its lowest level of COVID-19 inpatients Friday at 51, three fewer than Thursday, after discharging eight and admitting five, spokeswoman Rebecca Sylvester said.
AU Health System saw another decline to 21 patients in the hospital, three less than the day before, and added 40 new positive tests to reach 25,279 since its first reports in March, spokeswoman Christen Engel said.
Doctors Hospital of Augusta saw a slight tick up to 25 patients being treated in the hospital, one more than Thursday, and added two new cases for 742 total, spokesman Kaden Jacobs said.
Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta saw three new cases for 1,720 total, with 73 active cases among 72 veterans and one staff member, and stayed at 82 deaths, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The Augusta VA has vaccinated 8,774 veterans, including 5,509 who have received both doses.
South Carolina added 1,180 new cases to reach 441,697 with 26 new deaths for 7,528, the Department of Health and Environmental Control reported. Aiken County saw 26 new cases for 12,007 and Edgefield County had 11 more for 2,363. Neither county had a new death and they remained at 167 and 26 respectively.
The state got the results of 41,949 tests, of which 2,81% were positive, less than half of the overall rate of 7.52%, which dropped, Chronicle analysis found. The seven-day average for new cases also dropped for the fifth day in a row, from 1,105 to 1,015, the analysis found.