Pierce County’s youngest COVID-19 victim is reportedly a 22-year-old male who had underlying health conditions.

That’s according to a Monday afternoon report from the Department of Public Health (DPH). His death brings the county’s total to four, although others with Pierce County connections have also died. DPH provided no further information about the deceased, citing privacy regulations.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases in Pierce continued to rise last week  — up 14 since last Tuesday  — but overall, the rate of new cases seems to be decreasing, according to daily reports from the Dept. of Public Health.

“There are going to be cases here and there. I would think a few a week would be expected,” says Dr. Brent Waters of Georgia Physicians South.

Pierce County’s total number of cases since March was 67 as of DPH’s Monday evening report.

Waters encouraged Pierce Countians to continue wearing face masks in public, to practice social distancing and to refrain from large gatherings of more than 10 people.

Pierce County’s per capita rate, the percentage of county residents reported to have contracted COVID-19, is currently .34 percent. That’s slightly higher than the state’s average of .32 percent and in the middle of the per capita percentages for counties that touch Pierce.

Appling County currently has the highest per capita percentage in the area at .51 percent. Ware follows with .46 percent; Bacon has .39 percent per capita; Brantley has .14 percent per capita and Wayne has the lowest per capita percentage with .04 percent of the county’s population having contracted COVID-19.

Memorial Satilla Health has had 271 patients under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19 since the first week in March. Of those, 206 have received negative test results while 59 have tested positive for the virus. Currently, six patients are waiting for results. Two patients are receiving treatment at the hospital.

The hospital has now expanded their testing capacity and is providing COVID-19 testing for symptomatic patients in the emergency room without requiring admission as an inpatient.

“This expands our testing capability to patients under investigation admissions, at-risk surgery patients and symptomatic emergency department patients,” says CEO Bobby McCullough.

Monday the hospital also announced it would reopen the main entrance for patients scheduled for diagnostic imaging studies and other services. Outpatient surgery patients will continue to enter and exit through the ambulatory surgery entrance.

The ER entrance remains open 24 hours a day and the front lobby entrance is open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and will be closed on weekends.

Visiting hours are from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. Patients may have one visitor at a time (including parent/guardian for minors receiving treatment). Children under the age of 12 will not be allowed in the facility unless receiving treatment.

Patients, employees and visitors will continue to be screened at the door, along with temperature checks and masking.