As June draws to a close, there has been a marked increase in COVID cases and deaths in Muscogee County.
Both the number of people with the virus and COVID-related deaths have more than doubled.
On June 1, there were 632 cases and 18 COVID-related deaths in Muscogee County. June 29 — just four weeks later and two days before the month’s end — there were 1,536 cases and 43 deaths.
“I think as a resident, it concerns me. As the mayor of this community it concerns me,” Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson. “We are now up to 43 deaths here in Muscogee County. And we have added about a thousand cases since the last week of May.”
Part of that increase can be explained by increased testing in local long-term care facilities. According to state numbers, there have been 114 residents and 69 staff test positive in Columbus nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. There have also been 18 deaths.
“About 40 percent of the deaths are coming from the nursing homes, but that’s not the whole story,” Henderson said. “We are seeing younger people starting to show up and test positive. A lot of people who don’t have any symptoms at all — or very mild if any — and those are the ones who feel good enough to continue to go out. But what they are doing is coming in contact with other people and spreading it.”
The number of hospitalizations are on the rise at St. Francis-Emory Healthcare and Piedmont Columbus Regional. The two local hospitals have not released COVID numbers for three months, but Henderson says capacity is not an issue right now.
“We are not at a point where we are short of rooms but we do need to see this start to flatten,” Henderson said.