Georgia passes 200,000 coronavirus cases

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People walk down the sidewalk on July 17, 2020 in St. Simons Island, Georgia. The state has since passed more than 200,00 confirmed coronavirus cases. - Sean Rayford/Getty Images North America/TNS

ATLANTA — Georgia passed more than 200,000 confirmed coronavirus cases Wednesday, according to the latest figures released by the state Department of Public Health.

The department said 201,713 confirmed coronavirus cases have been reported. The state is also nearing 4,000 coronavirus-related deaths, with the latest total at 3,984.

A total of 19,788 hospitalizations have been reported, with 3,616 patients admitted into intensive care units, the department said.

Wednesday’s latest numbers also show 3,817 more cases reported over the last 24 hours, along with 65 more deaths over the same period. Nationally, the United States has registered more than 155,000 coronavirus deaths, by far the most of any country, and is fast approaching an off-the-charts 5 million confirmed infections, the highest in the world.

U.S. testing for the coronavirus is dropping even as infections remain high and the death toll rises by more than 1,000 a day, a worrisome trend that officials attribute largely to Americans getting discouraged over having to wait hours to get a test and days or weeks to find out the results.

An Associated Press analysis found that the number of tests per day slid 3.6% over the past two weeks to 750,000, with the count falling in 22 states. That includes places like Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri and Iowa where the percentage of positive tests is high and continuing to climb, an indicator that the virus is still spreading uncontrolled.

Amid the crisis, some health officials are calling for the introduction of a different type of test that would yield results in a matter of minutes and would be cheap and simple enough for millions of Americans to test themselves — but would also be less accurate.

Widespread testing is considered essential to containing the outbreak as the U.S. approaches a mammoth 5 million confirmed infections and more than 157,000 deaths out of over 700,000 worldwide.

Testing demand is expected to surge again this fall, when schools reopen and flu season hits, most likely outstripping supplies and leading to new delays and bottlenecks.

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©2020 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.)