health update

Pierce County’s most recently reported COVID-19 death  — a 22-year-old male with underlying health conditions  — was not from Pierce County. The Department of Public Health corrected the record over the weekend, reducing Pierce County’s coronavirus fatalities to three.

The fourth death showed up on DPH’s daily COVID-19 report for Pierce County Monday, May 11. Since then, The Times contacted a half dozen area funeral homes, but found no one matching that description.

County Coroner William Wilson never received the death call, an indication the victim was inpatient at a hospital, nursing facility, or was not a resident of Pierce County. Friday’s updated DPH report confirmed the latter.

Pierce County’s COVID-19 death toll has leveled out, but positive virus reports continue to grow weekly, up 13 from last Tuesday’s noon report. The county’s total number of cases since March now stands at 90 with 20 of those infected having been hospitalized for complications related to the virus.

Neighboring Ware County, where many Pierce Countians work, shop and conduct business, reported an increase of  42 cases over the last week, and now totals 218 cases since DPH began tracking the virus outbreak. Ware has reported 14 deaths and 51 hospitalizations due to COVID-19.

The growing number of cases can’t be attributed to any particular cause or outbreak at this time, though. Area doctors say testing is more widely available even as locals begin to relax their social distancing practices as business and daily living slowly resumes normal operations.

“People seem to be letting their guard down which may contribute to some of the increase,” observes Dr. Brent Waters of Georgia Physicians South.

Last week, Memorial Satilla Health reported 334 patients under investigation for COVID-19 since early March with 257 negative results, 66 positive and 11 pending results. The hospital had five inpatients undergoing treatment for COVID-19. No report was available Monday owing to the Memorial Day holiday.