Coronavirus update 2.0 Athens

Analyzing the data

New COVID-19 cases in Athens-Clarke County held steady last week.

The county reported 175 new coronavirus cases from Oct. 5-11. This was similar tos the previous week, when ACC reported 174 new cases. It is also close to the University of Georgia’s low COVID-19 numbers. UGA reported 66 cases from Sept. 28-Oct. 4, only one more than the week before. The UGA and Athens communities overlap, so the case numbers in each group influence each other. 

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, the seven-day moving average positivity rate also rose from 3.8% on Oct. 4 to 4.4% on Oct. 11. Although it rose last week, the positivity rate remained below the World Health Organization’s recommended level of 5% or less.

In addition, ACC reported one new death from Oct. 5-11. There have been two deaths reported in ACC during October and 46 since the start of the pandemic.

Statewide, new cases slightly increased to 8,484 for the week of Oct. 5, compared with 8,240 during the week of Sept. 28. However, the seven-day moving average positivity rate fell from 7% to 5.6%, according to the DPH.

The rate of new deaths also increased slightly statewide. Georgia reported 254 deaths during the week of Oct. 5, up from 216 during the week of Sept. 28. Since the start of the pandemic, Georgia has reported 7,416 COVID-19 deaths.

In the news

The University of Georgia announced new incentives for those who participate in its surveillance testing program. The university said that starting on Oct. 8 it would give the first 1,000 participants a buy one get one free gift card to Jittery Joe’s. UGA also said it would give free Starbucks coffee and tea to those waiting in line to be tested.

UGA has seen a decline in the number of people participating in its surveillance testing program of asymptomatic people. Although UGA can conduct 500 surveillance tests per weekday on asymptomatic volunteers, the university averaged only 273 surveillance tests per day from Sept. 28-Oct. 2. This was down from 394.8 surveillance tests per day from Sept. 14-18.

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its webpage on how COVID-19 is transmitted on Oct. 5. The CDC now discusses the risk from aerosol particles. These are small droplets that are emitted when people talk, sneeze, sing, cough or breathe.

These droplets can linger in the air for hours and could infect people who are farther than six feet away from someone who is infected. This is particularly true when the infected person is breathing heavily or while in enclosed spaces with poor ventilation. 

Because breathing heavily, coughing or cheering could push air particles farther than 6 feet away, it’s especially important that fans maintain social distance while watching the Georgia football games. In addition, these new guidelines highlight why packing into large indoor crowds at bars or party locations with poor ventilation can lead to viral spread.

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