March 20 Covid-19 Update: 420 positive cases in 50 counties
In its Friday update, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) reported that the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the state had jumped to 420 from 297 on Thursday and that the number of counties involved had risen to 50 from 34.
As the map below shows, the virus has continued to spread outward from Metro Atlanta and, just as significantly, in southwest Georgia, where Albany and Dougherty County have emerged as a hot spot.
On Thursday, the only southwest Georgia counties with confirmed cases, in addition to Dougherty, were Lee, directly to the north, and Early, to the west on the Alabama line. On Friday, DPH added Miller, Randolph, Terrell, Turner and Worth to that list. Those eight counties are now home to 54 known Covid-19 victims.
Perhaps oddly, the only area of the state still largely unscathed is a massive stretch of sparsely populated and for the most part poverty-stricken rural counties that run from east central Georgia — in the area roughly between Metro Atlanta and Augusta — down through southeast Georgia.
Laurens County, whose county seat of Dublin is the largest city in that general region, reported its first case on Thursday. Outside of Dublin and Vidalia, in Toombs County, these counties do not have major healthcare facilities.
Throughout the state, local officials continued to struggle to come to grips with the spread of the virus. In Albany, Dougherty County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas asked the county’s residents to shelter-in-place and indicated the county government was moving to enacting an order requiring it. Across the state, Southeast Georgia Health System suspended most visitation rights at its Brunswick and Camden hospitals.