Four people tied to athletic programs at four different schools in Gwinnett County have tested positive for COVID-19, school system officials have confirmed.
District spokesman Sloan Roach said the four individuals were participating in athletic conditioning at Discovery, Mill Creek, North Gwinnett and Parkview high schools. It was not clear if they were coaches or student-athletes, or whether they were involved in football or another sport. Roach said she did not have information about who the individuals were.
Students and staff members, including the four people who tested positive for COVID-19 and anyone who had direct contact with them, will not be allowed to participate in activities on their respective campuses again until they have been cleared by a doctor, however.
“Our Return to Conditioning Plan follows the guidance from the Department of Health,” Roach said. “These guidelines call for those who had direct contact with the ill person to be notified. Those individuals are sent home to self-isolate per DPH guidelines and to seek medical attention, if appropriate.”
The fact that the four schools where someone participating in athletic conditions programs are spread across the county underscores a point that Dr. Audrey Arona, the district health director for Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale counties, has repeatedly made: that it is not just one single area of Gwinnett that is suffering from the pandemic.
“This virus is all over the county, it’s all over the state, and you know there are concentrated areas where we do see an increase, but we believe that’s related to the density of the population,” Arona said. “Again, we try to reach into those areas to provide more messaging, but we provide the same message for our entire community and that is that it really is important that everybody take personal responsibility to wear a mask and social distance.”
Two of the four schools, Parkview and Discovery, are in two of the five Gwinnett zip codes that have been the hardest hit in the county by the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic.
Data released by the Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale Health Departments showed the 30047 zip code, where Parkview is located, had a COVID-19 incidence rate of 10.19 cases for every 1,000 residents, with a total of 608 cases seen so far. That is the fourth highest incidence rate in the county.
Meanwhile, Discovery is located in the 30046 zip code, which has been the fifth hardest hit zip code in the county. The local health department data released this week showed that zip code had an incidence rate of 10.02 cases for every 1,000 residents, or a total of 346 cases.
Mill Creek, on the other hand, is in the 30548 zip code, where cases have been much rarer. That zip code has only had 20 cases during the pandemic and an incidence rate of 1.26 cases for every 1,000 residents.
And North Gwinnett is in the 30024 zip code, which has had the 19th highest incidence rate among Gwinnett’s 29 zip codes. Its incidence rate has been 3.002 cases for every 1,000 residents, for a total of 194 cases during the pandemic.
Arona said officials from the health department had been regular communication with officials in the school systems across Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale counties to talk to them about precautions for keeping students safe as they return to campus this summer and in the fall.
“We anticipate we’re going to have many more conference calls with the schools as we get closer and closer to school openings,” Arona said. “We’re playing our part in that whole role because it really involves the complete community to make sure we’re addressing the needs of the community, education needs, public health, prevention messages, what we need to do to keep our community safe.
“The more that we collaborate the better, and that’s what we’re doing right now pretty heavily.”