The “re-opening of Georgia” unlikely to have impacted statistics prior to this week.
Since last Monday, May 4, the number of total COVID-19 deaths in Georgia has risen from a cumulative total of 1,211 deaths to a cumulative total of 1,405 deaths – an additional 194 deaths – averaging 28 deaths per day.
It should be noted that, of those 194 additional COVID-related deaths reported within the last seven days, only 62 actually occurred in the past seven days, or an average of nine new deaths per day. The reason for this is that the Georgia Department of Public Health continues to adjust, on a daily basis, the number of confirmed cases, hospitalizations, and deaths that they show as having been reported for a specific day.
As you can tell from the chart, the May 4 statistics showed that the first death was recorded on March 24. As of the May 10 DPH report, there are deaths being counted as far back as March 5. In addition to deaths that have been added prior to the former initial death on March 24, a majority of the prior days’ totals have increased. The total of new deaths listed for the days since May 4 is only 62, while the cumulative total of deaths being reported by DPH has risen by 194.
A similar discrepancy can be seen in confirmed cases, reported by GDPH also. According to DGPH, on May 4, a cumulative total of confirmed cases was 29,177; as of last night, the cumulative total is 33,833 – an increase of 4,656 new confirmed cases. However, the GDPH tally of new cases by day shows that only 2,207 (47 percent) of those were diagnosed in the past seven days; the remaining 2,449 were diagnosis that were made prior to May 4th, but only added to GDPH’s statistics in the past 7 days.
A sharp rise in the number of confirmed cases in the past 14 days has caused concern, and speculation that Georgia’s “re-opening” was premature. Many businesses that had been ordered closed by Kemp, including Gyms and fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, cosmetologists, and hair designers, nail care artists, estheticians and their respective schools, massage therapists, were allowed to reopen on March 24, and theaters were allowed to re-open on March 27, along with dine-in services at restaurants.
Many news articles in various media outlets, as well as comments on social media platforms, have cited the fact that, since April 24 – the day Gov. Kemp set as the day many businesses could re-open - the total number of confirmed cases increased from 22,491 to 33,778 as of this past Friday, May 8; that is an increase of approximately 50 percent over a two week period, whereas the previous two week period had seen only a 38 percent increase of confirmed cases, from 16,313 on April 10 to 22,491. on April 24.
However, reports of this increase in cases often failed to include data regarding the sharp increase in testing in Georgia over that same time period. Between April 10 and April 24, an average of 4,416 tests per day were conducted, between April 24 and May 8, an average of 8,593 tests per day were conducted.
Correlations between the rise in confirmed cases since the April 24 “re-opening” date also fails to take into account incubation times and testing/reporting lags.
While it is difficult to determine a definitive amount of time it would take for impacts of those loosened restrictions to appear in COVID-19 statistics, most scientific models suggested that any impacts will be seen in published statistics aafter 10-14 days (The time from exposure to symptom onset is thought to be three to 14 days, though symptoms typically appear within four or five days after exposure, according to Harvard Medical School, and the process of being approved for testing, getting the test swab taken, having the swab processed, and forwarding the test results to GDPH for inclusion in the posted statistics is, in general, 3-5 days.) Given those general guidelines, impacts from Gov. Kemp’s decision to re-open Georgia will not be begin to be seen in GDPH statistics until this week’s statistics are made known.
According to the Department of vital statistics, in 2017, an average of 50 people in Georgia died each day from heart disease, another 47 died from cancer, while chronic lower respiratory disease claimed 13 lives, stroke claimed 12, accidents claimed 11, Alzheimers took 10, diabetes claimed 6, kidney disease took 5 and suicide claimed the 4 lives Georgians per day.