Today in Georgia

I’ve decided to switch from posting daily metrics and twice weekly overviews to posting only weekly updates each Monday based on Saturday’s numbers. My graphs will still be updated daily. The course of this pandemic does not change drastically overnight. I will try to remember to post on social media when the weekly update is available each week, but otherwise check back on Monday for that. I’m also going to be adding more daily graphs for those who like daily metrics.

Weekly Overview (Updated Monday mornings)

Highlights

Recent Data Dumps

The state is working to get providers (like urgent care networks) reporting on a more consistent basis instead of in these large batches. However, data dumps do occur and affect the current and prior 7-day averages.

  • On 2/23, old cases, particularly from Dec 2020 and Jan 2021 started being reported, causing an artificial increase in daily cases by about 20-25% daily for several days in a row. (As of 2/28, this daily case dumping is still occurring.) It is possible these cases are coming from the dump of old tests reported on 2/18.
  • On 2/18, there was a got a huge dump of old test data (est. ~25K old tests), but without an equivalent large dump of cases. As a result, I removed this day’s data entirely from the weekly test positivity calculation. Reported testing is artificially high for this week.
  • On 2/5-2/8, there was a data dump of old tests in Clayton County, artificially increasing their case rates by over 30%.
  • On 1/6, there was a data dump of non-ELR cases, and over 800 cases were prior to October.

Antigen Cases & Probable Deaths

Antigen cases (positives from rapid tests) were added to the GA DPH web site this week, but without any antigen testing data. Antigen positive cases are from rapid tests to diagnose current infection, but they are less accurate than PCR tests, so are considered probable – not confirmed – cases by the official CDC definitions. Antigen positives are probable cases per the CDC, which is why they are separated out from confirmed cases on the DPH site. Their accuracy is also unclear. The FDA recently warned that false positives are an issue with antigen tests, and there are other issues with the accuracy of antigen tests as well.

Note that antigen cases are included in my daily changes report, but are not included in the graphs on the DPH web site or in any case rate calculations at this time. I updated my map showing the daily average cases per 100K (the metric used by Harvard’s globalepidemics.org site) so that I have one for confirmed cases only and one for total cases (confirmed + antigen combined).

Without antigen testing data, historical antigen case data, or date of onset for antigen cases, it’s challenging to put the antigen cases into context. Hopefully, we’ll get some antigen testing data soon so we can make more sense out of this data.

GA DPH also started probable deaths. These are deaths that are linked to COVID in some way, either an antigen positive, or some other epidemiological link, but without a positive PCR test. We don’t have day of death data for probable deaths, so I report the 7-day averages in the table above, but don’t have any way to know if they are current or older deaths being reported unfortunately, so I don’t include them in my graphs.

County/Regional Updates

  • To see the counties the largest daily increases, see my County Changes page. To see the hotspot counties, see the Two Week Case Rate & Positivity map on my Maps page. I have several other maps you may find helpful also.
  • The Georgia DPH Daily Status Report is also a good source for graphs of % positive and total tests performed per county, and includes a map showing % positive by county. Be sure to use the “by collection date” version and ignore the most recent few days because they are very incomplete and the numbers could change dramatically.
  • The Non-GA/Unknown State category “represents Non-Georgia residents and cases with unknown residence and may include in- and out-of-state cases.” There is also an Unknown category for cases without residency information. Case or death counts may go down when cases are shifted to specific counties, or when duplicates or other incorrect entries are found. Numbers for these categories as well as individual counties can be found on my Daily Changes page.
  • University of Georgia: For the latest on COVID at UGA, please see UGA’s latest surveillance testing and the most recent wastewater surveillance report from UGA.
  • For more local information, see my list of resources for Local/Regional COVID Data.

Weekly Cases per 100K

The CDC tracks cases by on the number of weekly cases per 100K people, using total cases (PCR and antigen combined), which is the blue line on the graph. These are by report date, which is subject to data artifacts from delayed reporting or data dumps from labs. I have added historic antigen case data that the state recently provided. I also labeled the rates on previous high and low points, as well as the most current day.

Percent Positivity

The percentage of positive tests are listed in the table at the top of the page as well as shown in the graph below. See more cases and testing graphs. I added the 2-week % positive by lab collection date to this graph, in orange, so you can see how it tracks along with the 7-day average of % positive by report date. Note that I sometimes used an adjusted % positive by report date when it’s obvious a data dump occurred.

The WHO goal is to keep positivity below 5% to ensure that we are testing widely enough to identify COVID cases in our state and local communities. Lots of free testing events and locations are now available across the state, the state is encouraging people to get tested. (How to get tested for COVID in Georgia.)

% Change in Active Cases

I use the number of cases reported in the past 14 days from the GA DPH web site as “active cases”. When the rate is below 0, the number of active cases are decreasing, and the further below zero it gets, the faster the active cases are decreasing. You can see active cases were increasing at over 7% per day in early July when the virus peaked in Georgia. For local case change trends, I added county-level maps to show where cases are increasing or decreasing in the past week as compared to the previous week.

Deaths

Actual deaths by date of death initially peaked in mid-April, mid-August, and mid-January. Probable deaths (from antigen positive cases or other suspected COVID deaths that are unconfirmed by PCR) have been added to this graph. Learn more about COVID deaths in Georgia. You can see from the second graph below how death reporting significantly lags when deaths actually occurred.

IMPORTANT: Deaths by date of death are always subject to change, and the last two weeks are definitely incomplete as death reports are still coming in. Deaths for recent dates WILL INCREASE over time.

Current Hospitalizations

Below is a graph of the number of COVID positive patients currently in Georgia hospitals, as well as the number of Patients Under Investigation (possible COVID cases without a positive test). Region N seems to count PUI patients differently, as they always have a much higher % of their patients listed as PUI, and the PUIs from Region N make up almost half of the state’s PUIs, so I focus more on the COVID positive patients. Learn more about current Hospitalizations in Georgia.