The COVID-19 outbreak is still going strong, health officials warn.
The announcement by the Coastal Health District Monday that a third death in Glynn County has been attributed to the virus further underscores the need for continued vigilance.
The person was an 83-year-old woman, said Ginger Heidel, health district spokeswoman. The woman’s race and whether she had an underlying condition remained unknown as of 5 p.m., according to the state Department of Public Health.
The first two victims of the coronavirus in the Golden Isles were a 76-year-old black man and a 90-year-old white man. Both suffered from underlying or chronic health conditions.
As of the close of the business day Monday, 190 people had tested positive in Glynn County since the outbreak began in March. A total of 75 cases have been reported in Camden County and 19 in McIntosh.
McIntosh and Camden have each connected one death to the virus.
Four persons with COVID-19 are currently being cared for at the Southeast Georgia Health System hospital in Brunswick. There are no patients with the virus in the hospital in St. Marys.
Statewide, 742,956 tests have returned 58,414 positive results since March — roughly 8.1 percent — and 2,494 people have died.
During a Monday briefing, Dr. Lawton Davis, director of the Coastal Health District, asked Georgians to continue to exercise utmost caution, despite the relatively low infection rate in the coastal Georgia area.
“We predicted between the 10th and the 20th of this month might be the time we’d see the surge if we were going to see one,” Davis said. “Starting on (June 9), we have seen an uptick (in the number of cases diagnosed daily).”
It was either Friday or Saturday that Georgia experienced the highest number of cases diagnosed in a 24-hour period, he said.
As one might expect, more cases have been uncovered since the state health department began testing more people and more private healthcare facilities began offering testing.
“The fatality ratio has not been climbing significantly, though,” Davis said. “We’re discovering more cases, but these are probably in the younger, more healthy, asymptomatic population.”
Much is still unknown about COVID-19, Davis said, but some characteristics can be gleaned from collected information. Sunlight, especially at midday, is quick to deactivate the virus, he said, and it doesn’t appear to be as readily transmissible via surfaces as originally suspected.
“We’re not telling people to stop cleaning their door handles, but it’s less likely than we thought initially,” Davis said.
The most effective means to keep from catching the illness is for everyone to wear a mask and keep six feet apart, he said, along with regularly washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes, throwing away used tissues and staying home if feeling sick.
Even those measures have limited uses when indoors, he said. As state restrictions on gatherings continue to be lifted, Davis recommended holding get-togethers outside if necessary.
“Just because it may be OK to do...some things now, it doesn’t mean you have to or go to those things,” Davis said. “You can still make intelligent decisions and be careful.”
He also asked that everyone get tested for the disease now that test supplies are more abundant.
Permanent testing locations include the Glynn County Health Department at 2747 4th St. and at many local private clinics.
The Coastal Health District also offers mobile testing sites. The next nearby stop is at the McIntosh Health Department — 1335 Ga. 57 in Townsend — from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. today.
Test results should come back in about 24 hours, Davis said.
Getting sick during that 24-hours would negate the purpose, however, so he recommended being extra cautious until results are returned.
“I think all of us are pretty tired of COVID-19,” he said. “We’re tired of not being able to gather and we don’t like wearing face masks. They’re uncomfortable, especially when it’s hot like it is, but I would reiterate the virus is still here. It’s not going away.”