Over 40,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases reported in Ga.; questioins arise over reported testing numbers

Over 40,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases reported in Ga.; questioins arise over reported testing numbers
Update on COVID-19 (Source: Gray Television)

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) reported 40,663 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, according to the 7 p.m. Thursday (5/21) update.

The total deaths related to COVID-19 in the state are now at 1,775. A total of 7,289 confirmed cases have been hospitalized.

Over 407,000 coronavirus tests have been conducted statewide. DPH added a disclaimer to the testing numbers stating that “total tests include all COVID-19 tests, including molecular and serology. The website will be updated to provide specific counts of each type of test as soon as possible.”

Governor Brian Kemp did not get into any details or directly address recent data concerns with the Georgia Department of Health during Thursday’s news conference.

Dr. Kathleen Toomey also acknowledged the issue, but she didn't get into specifics either.

"I want to take just a moment to talk about a data concern about the department of health's website. We are committed to full transparency and honesty as we weather this healthcare crisis. Georgia families and the press deserve accurate data. I know that Dr. Toomey's team is working around the clock to collect, sort, and produce that information,” Gov. Kemp said.

#WATCH: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and state officials are providing an update on COVID-19.

Posted by WTOC-TV on Thursday, May 21, 2020

That reaction after several journalists around the state noticed discrepancies earlier this week. It has to do with the COVID-19 testing numbers reported by DPH. The number of tests has dramatically risen to over 400,000 as the state ramps up testing sites.

But Wednesday, the DPH confirmed to WTOC that the COVID-19 test numbers also include anti-body test numbers. Anti-body tests determine if someone had the virus in the past.

The COVID-19 test determines if someone currently has the virus.

One doctor told Atlanta news stations that counting both is "confusing." He says the department should only care about the "here and now."

DPH Director Dr. Toomey said she also recently learned about this and is looking into the numbers.

DPH’s daily report website includes a map for a county-by-county breakdown of cases as well as graphs to chart the daily reporting of cases and deaths. Please click here to view that data from DPH.

The below graphic of positive cases in each Ga. county is powered by data from Johns Hopkins University:

The following graphic depicts deaths per county associated with COVID-19:

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