The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Georgia is now 555 with 20 deaths, up from 485 cases and 14 deaths as of 7 p.m. on Friday. Metro Atlanta counties had the largest overall numbers of cases, but the largest number of cases per capita are in Bartow County northwest of Atlanta followed by Dougherty and Lee counties in southwest Georgia. Of Georgians who died, the average age was just over 66, with the oldest being 85 and the youngest 42, according the state Department of Public Health. At least 10 had underlying health conditions.

Although Gov. Brian Kemp has said he won’t order restaurants and other businesses to close, officials in Dougherty County and Athens-Clarke County are ordering residents to stay home unless they’re going to work, buying food, seeking medical care or exercising. Gwinnett County is cracking down on large gatherings after young people were spotted flooding local parks.

Georgia’s Department of Corrections says three offenders that were housed at Lee State Prison in Leesburg, Ga. tested positive for COVID-19 and State Senator Kay Kirkpatrick announced on Facebook she is the 2nd Georgia senator to test positive for the virus.

Latest statistics also showed the virus is spreading across southwest Georgia from Albany. Officials there have said infections were initially spread at two large funerals. Nine other counties in southwest Georgia now have cases, and most of them have confirmed infection rates more than double the state’s average, on a per capita basis. Many counties have such small populations that one infection puts them above the state per-capita rate.

Gwinnett County is asking many local businesses to modify their service delivery or even to close until the COVID-19 danger passes. Those sacrifices will be in vain if the rest of the community does not do its part as well. They are asking community groups to limit gatherings. In addition, everyone should practice social distancing if they visit County parks. Large groups, primarily teens and young adults, are congregating in outdoor sports facilities at County parks without regard for the need to maintain distance among themselves.

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