The Week in Review, 28Jun2020

COVID-19 updates for Georgia

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This is the week in review for the COVID-19 pandemic in Georgia.


In the first graph below you'll see cumulative cases to date broken down by county type. I've marked the last four weeks with blue arrows. The number of new cases (by date of report) is as follows:
- 24 hours: 2,225
- 7 days: 12,509
- 4 weeks: 30,224

All of these increases are new records for Georgia, showing you just how intense this week has been. The new statewide total is 77,210. So 39.1% of all the cases were reported in the past month. In the next graph, I've graphed the total number of cases per week. This was the highest weekly increase for cases since the pandemic began.

When the rate of case increase turns as sharply upward as it is here, it puts a lump in my throat. Because this rate of increase doesn’t match our rate of testing increase - it far surpasses it. This looks like an expansion of the outbreak and it looks like the potential beginning of exponential growth.

For months, I’ve been reminding my readers that the actions we do (or don’t) take today have impacts on cases 2 weeks from now and deaths 3-4 weeks from now. While that is usually a message meant to empower you, the flip side of it is that no matter what we do today we are in for 3-4 very ugly weeks ahead. But certainly do whatever you can to self-isolate now so that we are *only* in for 3-4 ugly weeks, rather than 7-8. We are seeing hospitals run out of bed space in Texas, Arizona and Florida. We are not unique from these other states - what they are experiencing can happen here too.


The number of patients currently hospitalized for COVID-19 complications continues to rise since bottoming out around June 5th. What this tells us is that our increases in cases in recent weeks are not just identification of asymptomatic individuals through improved testing and screening - these people are truly sick and requiring advanced care.


The number of new deaths (by date of report) is as follows:
- 24 hours: 2
- 7 days: 135
- 4 weeks: 736

The new statewide total is 2778. So 26.5% of the total deaths to date took place in the past month (a decrease from last week). The statewide case fatality rate is 3.6%, also a decline from last week. This is welcome news for now, but as we see cases and hospitalizations increase, brace for deaths to increase in the coming weeks. I desperately hope that I’m wrong.

In the table, we can see some demographic data on the deaths so far. There is a small male:female predominance when we look at all fatalities, but this disparity increases when we look at the distribution of age and sex for fatalities (see next graph).

Note: the ? is indicated because Georgia Department of Public Health no longer provides age data for anyone over the age of 90. That makes it difficult to accurately calculate the mean, median, or characterize the range in age. 106 was the oldest individual identified before the DPH change.

In this analysis, the male:female predominance is observed for all deaths between ages 30 - 79. The ages of 60 - 89 have the largest concentration of deaths, and especially between 70 - 89. An underlying condition was noted for 62.5% of deaths (a decline from last week).

Next let’s look at the distribution when considering age and race.

From these data, we can see that African American / Black populations contribute the majority of deaths in all age categories up to 69 years of age. Then there is a nearly equal breakdown of African American / Black compared to White. Above the age of 80, the majority of deaths are in White Georgians. The peak age range for African American / Black populations is 70-79, for White it is 80-89. For Asians it is 70-89 and for Other (which includes Latinx populations), the peak is centered in the 50-59 age range.

Compared to US Census data for Georgia, deaths are disproportionately impacting Black or African American populations.

Combined data

Lastly, let’s look at how cases, hospitalizations and deaths have shifted among age groups. These data come from the demographics tab on the Georgia Department of Public Health website. Compared to a week ago, there is a shift in cases from those 60+ to younger populations, with those 18 - 59 taking the bulk of that shift. The hospitalization rate has decreased for all age groups but there are some exceptions when we look at smaller age groups. For example, the rate of hospitalization has increased for infants (5.4% to 5.9% this week). The case fatality rate has decreased slightly for all adults.


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