ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - In the midst of the holiday season, the Dougherty County Coroner’s office is anxious to see if COVID-19 deaths will rise again.
“We are up to 205 right now. We have five deaths for the month of December. In November, we had three, in October we had six, in September we had six. So, it’s picking up from November since Thanksgiving. With the holidays here, and New Years’, I know that it may pick up again,” said Coroner Michael Fowler.
Fowler said that when he goes to pronounce a COVID-19 patient dead, he encourages family members in the home to be tested for the virus.
Especially this time of year.
“When you have a death in the family, most times, other family members are gonna come to the house to extend their condolences. And they’re gonna be, in my concerns, a possibility of catching the virus themselves. So, a lot of times, the family member that is still alive needs to know. So, you can encourage other family members as they come in that they need to put on a mask or practice social distancing,” said Fowler.
And while COVID-19 is usually listed as a “cause of death,” Fowler said people usually die from underlying health issues worsened by the virus.
“Most time when we sign the death certificate, we may sign complication of hypertension or when we say that diabetes and another contributing factor could be COVID-19,” said Fowler.
And despite cases back on the rise, the coroner said he’s optimistic that a vaccine will be something positive for a community that has lost so much this year.
“Many individuals ask me should they get it or not. I think it is a positive thing to get. Some kind of protection, as I say, is better than nothing at all. You don’t want to mess around catch the virus and catch pneumonia and have a double whammy. And plus, if you have an underlying condition, that outcome may not look positive. So, I definitely encourage family members to take the vaccine to prevent the thing from coming into your system,” Fowler said.
Fowler said people should wash their hands, avoid gatherings and mask up to prevent more COVID related deaths in the future.