Officials confirm first Georgia COVID-19 death; urge at-risk groups to prepare

STAFF REPORT :::

Officials have confirmed the first COVID-19 death in Georgia.

According to a press release from the office of Governor Brian Kemp, the individual was a 67-year-old man who had been hospitalized in WellStar Kennestone Hospital since testing positive on March 7.

In addition to the COVID-19 strain of coronavirus, the patient also had underlying medical conditions.

“Marty, the girls, and I are praying for the family and loved ones of this individual during this incredibly difficult time,” Kemp said. “I know the medical professionals on site did everything that they could, and I greatly appreciate their efforts. As our state continues to address this pandemic, I urge Georgians to remain calm and support their neighbors and communities. We are in this fight together.”

Georgia Department of Public Health Director Kathleen Toomey, MD, MPH also addressed his death as well as ongoing efforts to prevent others from acquiring this illness.

“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of this individual, and the hospital staff who cared for him,” she said. “Governor Kemp, DPH, the Coronavirus Task Force, and federal partners continue to work together around the clock to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Georgia.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness, including older adults – those ages 60 and above – and people with serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease.

If you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 because of your age or because you have a serious long-term health problem, it is important for you to prepare now in the event of a community outbreak of COVID-19.

Be ready to stay at home for an extended period to limit your exposure to the virus. Ask your health care provider about having extra prescription medication on hand and stock up on over-the-counter medicines to treat fevers and other symptoms. Be sure you have two weeks of household items, groceries and water so that you do not have to leave home.

The best prevention measures for all ages against any respiratory virus are:

Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.

If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Stay home when you are sick.

Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces.

If you have recently traveled to areas where there are ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19 and you develop a fever with cough and shortness of breath within 14 days of your travel, or if you have had contact with someone who is suspected to have COVID-19, stay home and call your health care provider or local health department right away. Be sure to call before going to a doctor’s office, emergency room or urgent care center and tell them about your travel and symptoms.

For additional information about COVID-19, please visit dph.georgia.gov/novelcoronavirus or cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html.

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