States' reopening adds heavy weight to rise in COVID-19 cases

Published: Jun. 17, 2020 at 5:35 PM EDT
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Wednesday, June 17, 2020

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- With more people getting tested, of course, we're going to see those numbers go up. But experts say increased testing isn’t the only factor in the rise of COVID-19 cases.

Multiple people are keeping tabs on the different types of COVID-19 data. And officials at Augusta University say the numbers tell the story to an extent. It just depends on whether people understand it or take it seriously.

From the numbers to the graphs and tables, it can be overwhelming and difficult to know what to believe and what to ignore.

"We haven't approached this pandemic in the best way,” said Dr. Justin X. Moore, an epidemiologist at AU. "I think we've been more reactive rather than proactive."

Moore has been studying the COVID-19 data since January. A snapshot of the problem may come from the Albany, Ga., hotspot. Moore found the highest COVID-19 death rates in those southwest counties, with areas of high poverty, a lack of intensive-care unit beds, and a high African American population.

"These hotspots in these communities of high COVID-19 incidents and mortality mirror what we saw other studies with different diseases,” Moore said.

In other words -- we should've seen it coming and taken proactive measures. Yet, as the percentage of positive cases goes up in South Carolina, many are saying it's only because testing has increased.

"If that positive percentage rate is going up, you have to take it really seriously,” Moore said.

That's because it shows the number of cases is still growing in the community. In fact, the overall trend on both sides of the river was never decreasing. But the reopening continued.

"We probably need to kind of take a step back,” Moore said. "And re-evaluate what we are doing with social distancing, in terms of keeping people safe.”

Moore says that the problem with looking at data is that it's in the past. And we're reacting to it as the world moves on. But being proactive and cautious can make the data, especially COVID-19 data, less painful to look at.

Moore also says he's alarmed by the fact that wearing a mask isn't being mandated in public spaces based on the data. He says it could easily slow the spread.

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