STATESBORO, Ga (WSAV) – A 36-year-old woman is now the youngest person to die of COVID-19 in Bulloch County.
That’s following a New York Times report two weeks ago that ranked Statesboro as one of the top cities with the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the country.
“If you look at the past month, we were at 1,380 in the middle part of August and we’re at 2,643 as of [Sunday] so that’s almost double in a month,” said Ted Wynn, the Bulloch County Public Safety and EMA Director.
According to the latest report, the number of positive cases per 100,000 people is more than eight times higher than where they should be in Bulloch County. The goal is less than 100 cases per 100,000. The death toll is up to 24, which is a thirty percent increase in the past month.
The latest COVID-19 victim, and county’s youngest, had no underlying health issues.
“You may hear some talk about well, it’s not the COVID that killed this person, they had diabetes or they had other health issues, but people live long lives with these other health issues. COVID-19 is what killed them. That’s what hastened their death. We need to do everything we can to prevent that,” said Wynn.
Bulloch County has increased testing in partnership with the City of Statesboro and East Georgia Healthcare Center (EGHC). They will now offer free testing on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Wynn said the goal is to test, trace, and isolate to decrease the number of cases.
The CEO of East Georgia Regional Medical Center (EGRMC) said staff members are currently caring for 22 patients, 7 of whom are on ventilators. Stephen Pennington said critical care and ICU beds are close to capacity, but the number of hospitalizations has remained consistent since early July. He said he expected case numbers to increase with nearby schools offering classes in person, but it has not changed the demand of patients at the hospital.
Pennington is encouraging community members to stay positive and diligent about helping to stop the spread in the months ahead.
“Working together is the key for us moving forward. Remember, we’re all in this together to fight this pandemic over the long haul,” said the CEO of EGRMC.
Ted Wynn told News 3 the Bulloch County Sheriff is back at work Monday after quarantining for two weeks. He believes the Bulloch County Commission Chairman will be returning to the job soon after caring for his wife who tested positive.
The PIO for the City of Statesboro, Layne Phillips, said the city does have a mask mandate in effect, but enforcing masks is difficult because many businesses are opting out of requiring masks, which they have the right to do under Governor Kemp’s latest executive order.
Phillips said the police department has not issued a single citation. Instead, officers are supplying masks to anyone without one, and educating citizens about why they should wear face coverings.