Dr. Memark answers a few questions on the COVID-19 outbreak in Cobb and Douglas counties

Janet Memark speaks at Healthy Start meeting used in article about questions on COVID-19 in Cobb CountyJanet Memark speaks at Healthy Start meeting (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

The Courier has been gathering questions about the COVID-19 pandemic from social media in response to our articles about the outbreak in Cobb County.

We sent three questions to Cobb & Douglas Public Health, and Dr. Janet Memark, the District Health Director for CDPH provided the answers in an email.

Here are the questions, followed by Dr. Memark’s reply:

  1.  Isn’t the death rate for Georgia and Cobb low?  And how does this compare to seasonal flu rates?

Dr Memark:

The death rates in Cobb and Georgia are going down slightly. This change is probably due to the shift in age range that we are seeing of cases at this time to a younger age range. This is probably due to a lack of social distancing and effective shelter in place orders that were put in place previously with our elderly and medically fragile. We are seeing increased utilization of the Emergency rooms, inpatient and intensive care beds at this time. Fortunately, we are not seeing a drastic increase in deaths.

Flu is not a notifiable disease (therefore we can’t calculate a case fatality rate). Only flu-related deaths and flu outbreaks are reportable. https://dph.georgia.gov/influenza-surveillance-georgia

  1. Did they die from or with covid19? In other words how is it determined whether COVID-19 is the cause of death, or whether the person was infected with the virus, but died of other causes?

Dr. Memark:

Here is the CDC case definition that is used by public health:  https://wwwn.cdc.gov/nndss/conditions/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/case-definition/2020/

  1. Is the rise in confirmed cases due to increased testing?

Dr. Memark:

Although we have had a drastic increase in testing requests and volumes, our increase in cases are not explaining all that we are seeing. The percentages of those tests coming back at our testing sites are also increasing, showing us that there is increased transmission throughout our community.  That is confirmed by increased activity in our hospitals, outbreaks and business communities.

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