COVID-19’s spread in Georgia continues at a relentless pace.
The number of virus cases here has surged past the 500,000 mark, including 58,000 positives from rapid antigen tests. There have been more than 9,000 confirmed COVID deaths in Georgia over the course of the pandemic.
And Georgia reported 5,500 new COVID infections Monday, including antigen test results.
The Savannah Morning News pointed out that nearly 1 of every 20 Georgians has been infected with the virus.
The virus has rattled political circles here as well.
Upon learning Sunday that former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani tested positive for COVID-19, Georgia senators who attended a seven-hour legislative hearing last week with him were urged to self-quarantine, the AJC reported.
Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller, a Gainesville Republican who did not attend the hearing, said senators who participated in the Senate Judiciary subcommittee meeting who have not previously contracted COVID-19 were encouraged to quarantine for two weeks.
Giuliani, who is President Trump’s personal attorney and has been involved in challenges to some states’ November election totals, did not wear a mask while in the state Capitol on Thursday.
“We are clearly disappointed that Mayor Giuliani disregarded the health and well-being of others by not wearing a mask when it clearly would have been appropriate,” Miller said, according to the AJC.
State Sen. William Ligon, a Brunswick Republican and chairman of the subcommittee that held the hearing, said in a statement that Giuliani was in “close proximity to senators, Senate staff, members of the media and the general public.” Ligon encouraged people who might have been exposed to follow health recommendations.
The Trump campaign’s legal team released a statement Sunday night, with the “consent of Mayor Giuliani,” saying he “tested negative twice immediately preceding his trip to Arizona, Michigan, Georgia” and “did not experience any symptoms or test positive for COVID-19 until more than 48 hours after his return,” USA Today reported.
Other data on COVID-19 in Georgia, meanwhile, are trending in the wrong direction.
COVID Exit Strategy has listed Georgia as having “severely constrained’’ ICU capacity, and the state’s positive test rate for the virus is rising, at 13.4 percent.
Amber Schmidtke said in her Daily Digest that on Monday there were 2,502 COVID patients hospitalized in the state, which is 305 higher than compared to a week ago.
Georgia has the sixth-highest count of COVID cases, while it is the eighth-most populous state, the Morning News reported. Pennsylvania and Ohio each have a higher population but fewer COVID-19 cases.
Awaiting a post-holiday surge
The United States hasn’t seen the full impact that Thanksgiving gatherings likely will have on rising Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday.
“The blip from Thanksgiving isn’t even here yet,” Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CBS’ Norah O’Donnell during the Milken Institute Future of Health Summit, CNN reported.
“So we’re getting those staggering numbers of new cases and hospitalizations before we even feel the full brunt of the Thanksgiving holiday,” Fauci said. Health experts warned before Thanksgiving, which was on Nov. 26 this year, that Americans should gather virtually rather than risk exposure from in-person contacts.
As the United States nears an average of 200,000 COVID-19 cases a day, experts say “behavior and cold weather” are behind the current surge gripping American communities, CNN reported.
Meanwhile, President-elect Joe Biden on Monday announced the health team that will lead his administration’s pandemic response when he takes office in January.
Biden’s transition team announced California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as his nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services and Dr. Vivek Murthy as his nominee for U.S. surgeon general, two positions that require Senate confirmation. He also named Dr. Rochelle Walensky as director of the Atlanta-based CDC, and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith as the chair of his COVID-19 equity task force.
Fauci, who has been a COVID-19 adviser to Trump, will serve as chief medical adviser to Biden on COVID-19.