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1-year-old boy becomes youngest COVID-19 death in Georgia

August 28, 2020 GMT
FILE - In this Aug. 21, 2020, file photo, Georgia College and State University freshmen Ashlynn Anglin, right, and Meghan Murphy, second from right, wear face masks as they talk while walking through the campus in Milledgeville, Ga. As more and more schools and businesses around the country get the OK to reopen, some college towns are moving in the opposite direction because of too much partying and too many COVID-19 infections among students. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 21, 2020, file photo, Georgia College and State University freshmen Ashlynn Anglin, right, and Meghan Murphy, second from right, wear face masks as they talk while walking through the campus in Milledgeville, Ga. As more and more schools and businesses around the country get the OK to reopen, some college towns are moving in the opposite direction because of too much partying and too many COVID-19 infections among students. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, File)

ATLANTA (AP) — A 1-year-old boy is now Georgia’s youngest victim to die from COVID-19.

The state Department of Public Health included the Cobb County boy in a table of deaths released Friday. The department says the boy had a chronic underlying condition that may have contributed to his death, but released no further information. The Cobb County Medical Examiner’s Officer said it couldn’t say anything further until the death certificate is completed.

The boy is one of 5,471 people to die in Georgia so far from the respiratory illness. Deaths from Georgia’s summer spike remain elevated, having averaged 68 over the seven days ending Friday. COVID-19 deaths often follow an extended illness and may not be recorded for weeks after they occur.

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The boy displaces a 7-year-old Chatham County boy as the state’s youngest victim of the respiratory illness. In that case, the Chatham County Coroner Bill Wessinger told news outlets that the boy had a seizure in the shower in July and was found unresponsive. He was declared dead when he arrived at a hospital, although the exact cause of death awaits pending autopsy results. The coroner said the boy attended a local church where he came into contact with two older church members who later tested positive for COVID-19. Those two also died.

A preliminary count by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found only 29 deaths involving coronavirus among children younger than age 5 nationwide. More than 170,000 people have died nationwide from the coronavirus. CDC data show hospitalizations and death are much less common for young children than for any age adult.

The seven-day rolling average of new infections in Georgia has fallen by about 40% since hitting a high on July 24, but remains elevated compared to other states. Georgia has recorded the fourth-highest cases per capita in the last 14 days according to figures kept by The Associated Press — a reflection that infections are falling here but have risen in Iowa and North Dakota, which have overtaken Georgia in recent days. Mississippi continues to have the highest per-capita rate of newly confirmed infections.

Georgia’s share of positive tests has drifted down to 9.5% as of Thursday, but remains above the national average of 5.9%. Experts say anything above 5% indicates that many cases are going undetected because not enough tests are being administered. The number of tests being administered in Georgia is falling, sparking some frustration from Gov. Brian Kemp.

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The coronavirus is spreading fastest in Chattahoochee, Stewart, Clinch, Baldwin, Bibb and Treutlen counties, all of which rank in the top 30 counties nationwide for the most new cases per capita in the past 14 days. Chattahoochee County includes much of Fort Benning, while Stewart County is home to a large federal immigrant detention center.

In Baldwin County, infections among the 7,000 students at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville are driving those numbers. The college reported on Friday that 453 students and three employees have tested positive in the last two weeks. Faculty and students held a “die-in” on the campus Friday, imitating protests held at other public universities in Georgia.

“We will not stand for the insufficient policies and procedures for re-opening during the COVID-19 pandemic, which have resulted in the reckless endangerment of the Georgia College and Milledgeville communities,” said Avery James, a graduate student who is a member of the United Campus Workers of Georgia, a union that represents some campus employees.

Besides complains about systemwide policies requiring in-person classes and limiting exemptions that instructors can get to teach online, protesters say the college isn’t doing enough testing and that testing facilities in the community are inadequate. They also say that students who are testing positive are being sent home where they will further spread the illness because the campus has no quarantine facilities. Also, some faculty said they were told not to inform their classes that other students had tested positive.

While most people who contract the coronavirus recover after suffering only mild to moderate symptoms, it can be deadly for older patients and those with other health problems.

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Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.

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