SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Since mid-May, the Coastal Health District has reported a spike in the average number of new coronavirus cases. Experts say it’s possible that crowds last weekend will trigger another surge in the coming weeks.
“It’s conceivable that we will see an uptick in cases, maybe a big uptick in cases,” said Dr. Lawton Davis, the director of the Coastal Health District.
Davis says it’s a possible consequence of a busy Memorial Day weekend in Savannah, on Tybee Island and in surrounding counties. But if you check numbers from the Coastal Health District, you will see COVID-19 cases have been climbing before that.
One week ago, on May 18, for example, the average number of new cases was close to 11. On Monday, that number was nearly 25.
“Things don’t come in in a perfectly smooth manner, but by doing those extending rolling averages, it tends to lessen the effect of any one particularly bad day,” said Davis.
Davis acknowledges the climbing number and attributes it to three factors. First, there is better testing in the Coastal Health District, which means it easier to find a positive coronavirus case.
Second, employees at the district’s primary reference lab are now working a third shift, which means they are able to process a backlog of tests that may have been completed a while ago.
And third, Davis says there is evidence of community transmission now that people are more relaxed and congregating in indoor spaces, where the virus is more likely to spread.
“You have to talk more loudly and you’re up closer to people and so as you laugh and talk loudly, you’re exhaling more of those potentially infectious droplets,” he explained.
Overall, the total number of cases in the Coastal Health District doubled in the last month. On April 26, there were 408 confirmed coronavirus cases. On May 26, there were 822 confirmed coronavirus cases.
There have been nearly 200 more confirmed cases in the last week.
Officials are reminding the public that there is no evidence suggesting infection leads to immunity. They also do not have any proven treatment for the infection.
Davis says it will take at least two weeks to determine if the holiday weekend put more people at risk.
“The only tools we have in our toolbox are social distancing good public health hygiene,” he said. “And contact tracing and isolation as is appropriate.”