Troup tops 4,000 COVID-19 cases
By Hunter Riggall
The LaGrange Daily News
Even as vaccines have reached medical workers and first responders in Troup County, the county was on the cusp of recording its 4,000th cumulative COVID-19 case on Thursday, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. Approximately 5.7 percent of county residents have contracted the virus based on those numbers.
Troup County has had 5,654 cases per 100,000 people, higher than the statewide figure of 5,152.
The rate of new COVID-19 cases has risen in the county this month. On Dec. 22, the seven-day average reached 31.3 cases per day, the highest rate since July. As of Dec. 29, the average had fallen to 23.4 new cases per day.
That decline may be attributed, however, to the fact that tests have fallen sharply since Christmas. From Dec. 21 to Dec. 25, 799 PCR test result were recorded. In the five days following Christmas, there were only 378 PCR test results.
Hayla Folden, a spokesperson for District 4 DPH, said it could also be due to labs being closed.
“That could be because labs were off, closed for the holidays and closed on Saturdays and Sundays,” Folden said.
The percent of test recipients who tested positive for the virus remains high and is rising.
The seven-day moving average as of Dec. 30 had a rate of 20.7 percent positive, higher than in Georgia as a whole, where 15.5 percent were positive.
That is the highest seven-day average in Troup County since June 24. Folden said a positivity rate over 20 percent was very high. Over the past two weeks, Troup has had 535 cases per 100,000.
Though that is lower than Georgia’s rate, higher than 100 per 100,000 is considered widespread in a community, Folden said. The rate was under 100 before Thanksgiving, she said.
“It’s quite possible that it’s so widespread now that people could be getting it anywhere,” Folden said.
Dr. Kenneth Horlander, a pulmonologist at Emory of LaGrange who also works in Wellstar West Georgia Medical Center’s intensive care unit, said they were seeing “huge numbers” of COVID-19 at the hospital.
Since the start of the pandemic, 121 people have died in Troup County of the virus, a rate of 171.8 per 100,000 people. Georgia’s rate is 90.5 deaths per 100,000 people.
Five people have died of the virus in December in Troup County. The number was higher after the summer surge, when 26 people died in July and 24 people died in August. Deaths tend to lag behind cases, however.
Folden said it was typical for a spike in deaths to lag six to eight weeks behind a spike in cases.
It’s difficult to forecast deaths, however, as survivability depends on the age group and health condition of COVID-19 patients.
Gov. Brian Kemp announced Wednesday that the state planned to begin distributing vaccines to people who are 65 or older.
Folden said they did not currently have enough vaccine to start doing that immediately, and that it would take a couple weeks of planning. She asked for people to be patient as DPH works to bring vaccines to more people.
“Our phones are blowing up,” Folden said. “We need those two weeks to plan how were going to distribute.”