The Georgia Department of Public Health reported another COVID-19 death Thursday, the third this week in Glynn County, raising the number of fatal outcomes in the community since the outbreak started to nine.
According to the health department’s website, the deceased was a 71-year-old White woman. Whether she had an underlying condition was not disclosed at the time of the announcement.
She was preceded by a 68-year-old Black woman, a 75-year-old White woman, a 90-year-old White man, a 76-year-old Black man, a 90-year-old White man, an 83-year-old White woman, a 74-year-old Black man and an 84-year-old White woman.
All but one, the 74-year-old, had underlying conditions. Health department personnel previously declined to release information on underlying conditions, citing HIPAA privacy protections.
None of the identities of virus victims was made public.
The number of deaths remains relatively low in Glynn County and statewide, a fact to which Coastal Health District officials credit a better understanding of how to treat the symptoms of the virus. Fatal cases for all of Georgia stood at 2,930 Thursday afternoon.
The number could rise as hospitalizations increase, however. The Southeast Georgia Health System saw a peak in COVID-19 positive inpatients this week, topping out at 40 in Brunswick on Tuesday.
The Brunswick hospital was treating 36 positive inpatients, and four were being treated at the health system’s hospital in St. Marys as of 4 p.m. Wednesday.
“Noticeable increases in hospitalizations typically lag behind the increases in reported cases by several weeks,” said Dr. Lawton Davis, Coastal Health District director. “People who have bad clinical courses and ultimately die often have protracted hospital stays before succumbing.”
Only 10 new cases of the virus were reported in Glynn County on Thursday for a total of 1,332 cases since the outbreak began. Reports of new cases have been coming in rapidly recently, with 292 reported in the last week and 827 in the last two weeks.
Five of the county’s nine deaths have been reported in the last two weeks.
Camden County reported two new cases Thursday for a total of 235, while McIntosh reported none, holding at 71. Two COVID-19 positive individuals have died in Camden County and one in McIntosh County.
Such news wasn’t at the forefront of many in the Pier Village on St. Simons Island on Thursday, where cars lined Mallery Street on a fairly typical summer morning.
Pam Coler, manager at Tonya’s Treasures, said business in the village has been very hit-or-miss since the state government began lifting restrictions in May, with no apparent reason for why days are busy and some are extremely slow.
Her store never closed even during an April shelter-in-place order issued by Gov. Brian Kemp, she said. Store owners were reluctant to require anyone coming in to do anything other than keep a six-foot distance from others — required by a statewide executive order.
The virus is mostly blown out of proportion, she said, a view shared by Bobby Brown, owner of Moondance Vintage Clothing.
He compared COVID-19 to past pandemics, noting they did not get as strong a reaction from the public or governments. While the virus is not political, he said, he suspects some are trying to make it so.
From a ground-level perspective, seeing the Pier Village practically empty in the early days of the outbreak and a shelter-in-place order was surreal, Brown said, and not very good for his bottom line.
Throughout April and May, Brown said maybe 150 people entered his shop. He’d normally see thousands in that timeframe, especially during the tourist-heavy summer months.
Sarah and Kayley, two college students visiting from New York who declined to give their last names, said they had no qualms traveling during the pandemic. Both wore masks and said they felt comfortable going out while wearing them.
Both noted a difference in how people reacted to the disease in New York and on St. Simons Island. Everyone up north wears them in public as a matter of course, they said, but in Glynn County, very few do.
Rebecca Newburn, whose family owns Frederica Station and Waterfront Gifts, said she’d heard the same thing from a friend in Connecticut.
“Everyone’s wearing a mask, and then she hits the Mason-Dixon Line and people are sharing beers,” Newburn said.
The staff in both establishments deal with hundreds of people a day, she said. While she’s not going to turn anyone away, Newburn said she wished more people would be considerate of shop employees when deciding whether to wear a mask.
For some, it’s not an intentional decision not to wear them. One man who traveled from Tennessee on vacation said he carries one with him everywhere but takes it off outside. Sometimes, he simply forgets to don it before walking indoors.
Enjoying a regular bike ride to the pier, Linda and Charles Porter said they wished more people would wear masks when near others.
Linda Porter said she regularly checks in on COVID-19 news and sees the rapid rise in new cases in Glynn County and around the country.
“Two (million) to 3 million people have it, 100,000 dead,” she said. “It’s not a hoax, especially to us, as African Americans are more susceptible.”
Health officials urge residents to wear face masks in public, wash their hands regularly, use hand sanitizer if necessary, cover coughs and sneezes, avoid crowded places and isolate from others if feeling sick.
For more information on measures one can take to keep from catching or transmitting the virus, go to youtu.be/9vbriE5xjwU to see a video produced by the SGHS.
Call 912-230-9744 or go to covid19.dph.ga.gov to schedule a COVID-19 test at either the Glynn County or McIntosh County health departments. The call center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to noon.
Coastal Community Health Services also provides free drive-up testing at 106 Shoppers Way in Brunswick Monday through Friday, 8:30-10 a.m. An insurance card, if insured, and photo ID are required.