STATESBORO, Ga. (WSAV) – Statesboro is among the nation’s metropolitan areas where the coronavirus “outbreak is the worst now,” according to data collected by the New York Times.
According to the New York Times data, Statesboro ranked sixth in metro areas with the greatest number of new cases — relative to their population — in the last two weeks.
The latest data from Bulloch County Public Safety/Emergency Management Agency reports the county has 735 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people. The goal is to have less than 100 cases per 100,000 people.
The New York Times also ranked Statesboro fifth of cities “where new cases are rising the fastest.”
Public schools in Bulloch County and Georgia Southern University returned to school on Aug. 17. In the two weeks leading up to classes, the county reported 298 new COVID-19 cases.
In the first week of classes, that number was much lower, at 73. But the following week, Aug. 24 to 30, Bulloch County saw 433 new cases.
That makes for 506 new cases in the two weeks since the start of school — nearly a 60% increase.
Meanwhile, fraternities and sororities at Georgia Southern have suspended all social events and in-person meetings through September to help slow the spread of the virus. Since school started there, the university has reported 579 cases at its 3 campuses.
“All social events… and by social events, we’re specifically talking about parties… [will not] be hosted until October 1st. And after that, we’re going to meet with them and assess the situation,” said GS Fraternity and Sorority Life Director Francisco Lugo.
Lugo says the university’s Office of Student Conduct and a jucidial board will ensure chapters follow the agreed-upon rules.
On Friday, Georgia Southern Athletics announced football practices would be temporarily suspended after a “small number of players” tested positive for COVID-19.
Bulloch County Public Safety officials encourage residents to follow state guidelines to slow the spread of the virus: wear a mask, practice social distancing, thoroughly wash your hands and follow Georgia’s latest executive order.
Bulloch Co. Public Safety/EMA Director Ted Wynn says the rise in cases was expected when students returned to Georgia Southern University’s campus.
“We’re not surprised by this. We knew that when the students came back and we began to take them into the community that we were going to see an increase,” said Wynn.
Over the weekend, the county reported daily new cases in the triple digits. On Friday, there were 133 new cases. On Sunday, there were 123.
“We’re not unique in that aspect,” explained Wynn. “We’re dealing with the same thing that a number of college communities are dealing with.”
There have been a total of 2,003 cases in the county since the start of the pandemic and 21 deaths.
Statesboro Mayor Jonathan McCollar is holding a press conference on Tuesday to address the spike in new cases. WSAV will be there and update this developing story.