A novel coronavirus, named severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019. (Photo Courtesy/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Athens-Clarke County has risen to eight as of noon Thursday, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

The University of Georgia announced that a UGA Athletic Association staff member had tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday morning and is being treated at an unspecified local hospital.

The first two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in ACC were announced by the DPH on Sunday at noon.

The two Clarke County residents were not hospitalized and are now recovering at home, said D. Stephen Goggans, director of the state’s East Central Public Health District, in an email to The Red & Black.

“No travel or other clear exposures were identified and the two cases are not thought to be linked to one another,” Goggans said in the email.

The person with the third confirmed case had recently traveled in between states and is currently self-isolating at home, according to a DPH press release from Tuesday.

All three individuals are not considered “high risk patients” and there is no epidemiological link between them, Tuesday’s DPH release said.

People found to be close contacts with either case have been notified by public health officials and given instructions for further action, Goggans said in the email.

The risk of COVID-19 to the general public remains low, but the elderly and people with chronic medical conditions may be at an increased risk to the virus, the DPH said in a news release.

“The Northeast Health District Epidemiology team is working to identify and notify any close contacts who may have been exposed to COVID-19,” according to the release.

The Northeast Health District will no longer release information for each individual confirmed case of COVID-19. Instead, the public is directed to check the DPH’s online case tracker.

Due to an increased need for COVID-19 testing, the NHD is giving tests by referral. The email directed those who are experiencing symptoms to contact their primary care provider or call 706-340-0996 between 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. to reach a local DPH nurse.

Symptoms for COVID-19 include mild to severe respiratory illness with a fever, cough or difficulty breathing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you have these symptoms, have had contact with a person with COVID-19 or traveled to an area with known cases of the virus, call your health care provider.

On Saturday, Mayor Kelly Girtz and the political delegation representing Athens in the state legislature released a statement about the new coronavirus, saying they met with the CEOs of St. Mary’s Hospital and Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center.

Girtz, state Sens. Bill Cowsert and Frank Ginn, and state Reps. Spencer Frye, Houston Gaines and Marcus Wiedower said they want to assure the public that community healthcare providers “are in constant communication and coordination with each other as well as the state and federal government, the Mayor and the local state legislative delegation.”

There are 197 cases of COVID-19 in Georgia as of noon Wednesday, according to the DPH.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.