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This map from the Georgia Department of Public Health shows the COVID-19 situation in Georgia over the last two weeks. Darker shaded counties are places that have had higher incidence rates of the disease — higher rates of new cases per 100,000 residents — over the last 14 days.

The Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale Health Departments is teaming up with Gwinnett’s 16 cities and other community partners in the county for a campaign to urge residents to be “team players” and take precautions to stop the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus.

The “Join The Team” campaign is calling residents to wear face masks, practice social distancing and frequently wash their hands.

That’s it. It’s that simple. Those are the three things local officials are asking Gwinnettians — and people visiting Gwinnett too — to do to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“Simple actions can help us limit the spread of this virus,” Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale District Health Director Dr. Audrey Arona said. “We are seeing younger, healthier individuals test positive, and younger age groups are less likely to have complications or hospitalizations. However, we all still need to do our part to protect those most at-risk in our community.”

The request comes as reports of COVID-19 cases and deaths related to the disease continue to come into health officials. As of Friday, Gwinnett has seen a total of 17,130 COVID-19 cases and 238 deaths from the disease since the pandemic reached Georgia in March.

It has also had 1,964 hospitalizations since that time. The county is No. 2 in the state for total cases, No. 1 for total hospitalizations and No. 3 in total deaths.

It’s total incidence rate, including all cases reported since March, is 1,763.9 cases for every 100,000 residents. Gwinnett’s total death rate has been 24.5 deaths for every 100,000 residents, according to the Department of Public Health.

The Georgia Department of Public Health updated its maps this week to reflect the situation across the state over the last two weeks, providing information about how the numbers have been changing across the state recently.

On Friday, that map showed Gwinnett, which has about 971,145 residents, has seen 4,073 new reports of confirmed COVID-19 cases over the last two weeks. That’s an incidence rate of 419.4 new cases for every 100,000 residents in the county over the last two weeks.

Several counties in southeast Georgia, along with a few in southwest Georgia and one on the Georgia-Tennessee border, have had incidence rates that were more than twice Gwinnett’s rate over the last two weeks.

Statewide, there have been a total of 186,352 reported cases of COVID-19, as well as 3,752 deaths, 18,689 hospitalizations and 3,414 ICU admissions since March. The Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency reported there were currently 3,155 confirmed COVID-19 hospitalizations across the state as of Friday.

State and local health officials have repeatedly said they are seeing community spread of the disease in Gwinnett, prompting them to create the “Join The Team” campaign.

So far, they have already enlisted several local government officials, professional athletes and other community members to pledge to do the three things residents are being asked to do to stop the spread of COVID-19. They have also agreed to film personal statements that will broadcast on and on social media over the next few weeks.

The key message of the campaign is that it will take everyone working together as a team and engaging in recommended preventative measures to stop the spread of the disease.

“We all want to get back to a more normal routine, and we can do that,” Arona said in the campaign’s kick-off video. “We can gather, we can go places, but we have to do it safely. We need your help to protect those who are more at risk and more vulnerable for having severe disease with this virus.

“The way we do that is we social distance. We wear a mask. We wash our hands, and we stay home when we’re sick. Those simple things can help stop the spread of the virus in our county.”

In addition to visiting the website, the campaign, and information about how to get involved, can be found on Facebook and Instagram at @jointeamgwinnett.

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I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

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