VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - Lowndes County has experienced an increase in COVID-19 cases in October, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health’s (DPH) South Health District.
Health officials said the rise was first noticed the second week of this month, and the positivity rate has continued to grow since.
The increase has greatly impacted schools and students.
“Thankfully, this is not the type of increase that we saw in July. We were seeing numbers in the 50s, 60s, even up to the hundreds some days back in July. What we are seeing now is more in the 20s, 30s, occasionally getting into the 40s range,” said Kristin Patten with the South Health District.
Patten said on Oct. 1, there were 3,848 positive cases. As of Wednesday morning, that number was at 4,253. She said they’re noticing the cause seems to link back to social gatherings.
Patten said small group settings are as risky as big ones.
“Anything from small groups where you are just going out to dinner with friends or grabbing brunch with a couple of people, things like that, to large group settings such as church or going to the mall or out to bars. So, it’s really important for people to remember that it’s not just these huge events, although those do increase your risks, it’s also the smaller groups where it’s five, six friends going out and just hanging out, too,” said Patten.
This rise in community spread is also taking a toll on students needing to quarantine.
At the beginning of the month, Lowndes County Schools reported 71 students quarantined due to possible exposure at school and 91 additional students quarantined due to possible community exposure.
Last week’s numbers increased to 602 and 101 additional students quarantined for community exposure.
WALB News 10 reached out to the school board for comment but they are not granting interviews concerning COVID-19 numbers at this time.
Officials said they are constantly reminding staff and students to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines.
“Nobody wants quarantine, nobody wants to sit at home for 14 days, but that quarantine is the best protection that we have against COVID spreading in our community at the rate it was in July,” explained Patten.
DPH also reminds everyone to keep practicing social distancing, washing your hands with soap and water and scrubbing for at least 20 seconds. Health officials also said you should use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.
Wear a mask, answer any call you get from DPH and get your flu shot.
Patten said if you need to quarantine, stay home from school and work. No running errands anywhere in the community.
She said you should stay home for those 14 days, even if you don’t experience any symptoms.