Today in Georgia

The Georgia DPH Daily Status Report is updated daily at 3pm, and my site is updated later.
*Additions to cases and deaths listed above are net changes from yesterday, which may not match the Reported Today section on the GA DPH site. Read more on this discrepancy.
Click here to view the table above in a Google sheet, and feel free to bookmark the sheet for future reference.

As we head into the holidays, and many months have past since I started tracking these numbers, I think it’s time to step back from daily analysis. Checking in on the numbers once or twice a week is plenty to follow the trends. The course of this pandemic does not change drastically overnight. For now, I will continue to update my graphs and the table above daily, but I won’t provide detailed text updates on this page or on social media except for weekly updates on Monday (for data through Saturday) and mid-week updates on Thursday mornings (for data through Wednesday.)

Weekly Overview – Week Ending Nov. 21

Highlights

  • Confirmed cases are climbing significantly as we head into cold/flu season, unsurprisingly. The metro Atlanta area and North GA account for much of the increase.
  • We are approaching record-high testing volume in Georgia. Based on reported PCR testing by collection date (not report date), at our summer peak, we ran ~28.5K tests/day at ~14% (~4K positive tests). Currently, we’re running ~25K tests/day at ~8% positive (~2K positive tests). With the increased testing, % positivity seems to be leveling off at least.
  • Ventilator utilization (for all patients), which correlates closely with COVID deaths, is near record lows, and ICU cases have been fairly flat. Hopefully this indicates that some of the increased hospitalizations are for milder cases (possibly due to patients hospitalized specifically to administer remdesivir, which requires hospitalization for the full 5-day course).
  • I have an article on my web site about the data on school re-openings in Georgia, as well as a compilation resources about the importance of getting kids back in school.

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 11/21, there was a large data dump of antigen positive cases from the past 2 weeks.
  • On 11/17, there was a huge dump of PCR tests and confirmed cases from the previous 2 weeks.
  • On 11/10, there was a data dump of around 1000 antigen cases from 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.

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: UGA’s latest surveillance testing % positive is down below 1% with record high testing, and overall new cases among students, staff, and faculty were down from last week. There were 162 tests given at the Univ. Health Center for those with symptoms. Of those, 15 were positive, for a 9.3% positive among sick patients. The most recent wastewater surveillance report from UGA said has mixed results, but suggested a slight increasing trend. Levels are down from their peak on September 1.
  • For more local information, see my list of resources for Local/Regional COVID Data.

Weekly Cases per 100K

The White House Coronavirus Task Force tracks states based on the number of weekly cases per 100K people. See our weekly case rates in the graph below (Friday values are marked on the graph, which is what the WH reports use).

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 (at an average of 44 deaths/day) and then dropped significantly from our Spring peak. Deaths rose again in July, peaking at an average of ~75 deaths/day on August 13th before declining again. Learn more about COVID deaths in Georgia.

An infant death in Wheeler County appeared on the web site recently, but that was in error (it was actually an adult male). There was also a pediatric death reported last week of a 17-year-old boy from Dodge County. Reports indicate that he died after being in the hospital since August as the result of serious injuries from a car crash (but apparently he tested positive for COVID at some point).

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

GEMA publishes hospitalization data in Georgia – it is not on the DPH site. I created a separate page to track and review hospitalization data in more detail, but will also share the current hospitalization data here. Learn more about current Hospitalizations in Georgia.