Testing may be increasing in Gwinnett County and around Georgia, but that doesn’t mean residents should get lax in efforts designed to contain the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There has been a major focus on increasing COVID-19 testing. Georgia was approaching 400,000 tests for the disease Tuesday night.
But, while more people are being tested and there are signs that the positivity rate is dropping as testing increases, CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said residents should continue to do preventative measures including wearing masks, frequently washing hand, using hand sanitizer, practicing social distancing and staying home if you don’t feel well.
“While there may be many that are growing tired and wearing of the mitigation that is underway here, there’s no doubt that it’s working and we are seeing tremendous progress,” Skinner said. “If you look at a lot of the indicators in our surveillance system that track COVID, you’re going to see that the number of people across the country who are going in to see their doctor with symptoms indicative of COVID continue to go down.
“The percentage of people that are actually testing positive continues to go down. The number of people hospitalized continues to go down. There’s a lot of good news in that regard and it clearly shows that the steps we’ve been taking over the last (two months) are working.”
Skinner is not the only person urging continued compliance with the CDC guidelines amid the increase in testing. Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale Health Departments District Director Dr. Audrey Arona recently told the Daily Post that residents should “Act as if everyone around you is positive and as if you yourself are positive.”
And, while there has been an increase in testing in Georgia, and the criteria for who can get tested has been loosened, Gov. Brian Kemp’s office announced on Monday that the number of people tested in the state equated to 3.3% of the state’s population.
In recent weeks, some businesses have been reopening in Georgia as many mandatory closures and shelter-in-place orders for most Georgians expired. Live entertainment venues, bars and night clubs must remain closed through at least the end of May. Shelter in place orders for the elderly and people with chronic health conditions remain in place through mid-June.
Skinner said, while the decision to reopen businesses and lift restrictions has been left to state and local officials, the CDC has provided those officials with information to help guide their decisions.
“We have provided tons and tons of guidance on our website for governors and state and local health officials to utilize when making decisions about opening up,” he said. “But, I think it’s going to be important, for the foreseeable future for people, regardless of where they may live, to continue to do the basic things that we know are effective in preventing transmission.”
There have also been protests in many states against continuing COVID-19-related closures, and there have been some people going to stores without face coverings.
“What we’re finding in many parts of the country is that people have grown increasingly tired of mitigation,” Skinner said “I think it’s important that we recognize that some people are ready to open up, no matter what, and I think we need to acknowledge the fact that there are people that feel that way and we need to encourage them to take the (transmission prevention steps) as they go about their business as a way to protect not only themselves, but to protect others.”
Locally, in Gwinnett, the local health department is opening a new testing site at First Baptist Church of Lilburn, which is located at 285 Main Street NW in Lilburn. Appointments are now being made for people to be tested at that site, which Gwinnett health officials pointed out is close to two transit stops. It will handle drive-thru and walk-up patients to accommodate people regardless of whether they own a car.
Testing is also continuing at the Gwinnett Health Department’s office in Lawrenceville. The phone number to schedule an appointment for either test site is 770-513-5631. Anyone who wants to be tested for COVID-19 can get a test, but they must make an appointment to do so.
Meanwhile, Gwinnett has, to date, seen a total of 2,771 cases of COVID-19, 114 deaths from the disease and 540 hospitalizations.
The county, which has a population of just under 1 million people, has had an incidence rate of 285.33 COVID-19 cases for every 100,000 Gwinnett residents.
Statewide, there has been a total of 38,855 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 1,675 deaths, 7,076 hospitalizations and 1,607 ICU admissions.
There have been 378,156 tests performed in Georgia so far. The state has not released data on the number of people who got the disease but later recovered.
Gwinnett, which is Georgia’s second most populous county, has had the third highest case totals among the state’s 159 counties, behind only Fulton (3,795 cases and 174 deaths) and DeKalb County (2,918 cases, 87 deaths). Gwinnett is followed by Cobb County (2,503 cases, 135 deaths) and Hall County (2,191 cases, 40 deaths).