Floyd County Jail

A sign outside the entrance to the Floyd County Jail shows where employees line up for COVID-19 screening before the start of their shifts.

On Friday evening the state listed the third death of a Floyd County resident resulting from a COVID-19 infection.

Health officials have said the man was 80 years old and had underlying health conditions. Two other Floyd County residents have died — a 75-year-old male and a 65-year-old female, and both had underlying health conditions.

The numbers of Floyd County residents who tested positive for COVID-19 more than tripled this week as the state ramped up its testing capabilities.

As of 7 p.m. Friday, there are 79 residents who have tested positive for COVID-19. On Friday, March 27, there were 25 positive cases here.

Regionally, the most hard hit areas have been Bartow and Cobb. Cobb County reported 422 people infected with 22 deaths and Bartow County reported 159 infections.

On Friday, Bartow County reported six deaths, all of those who died were between the ages of 69 and 90 and had underlying health conditions.

Statewide, Dougherty County in South Georgia and Fulton County have been hard hit. Fulton has reported over 900 infections and 26 deaths and Dougherty County reported 607 infections and 30 deaths.

There has also been an increase in the number of people who have tested negative for the virus. On Friday, local hospitals reported 15 negative tests for patients alongside 15 positive tests and 34 patients awaiting their test results.

Of over 25,000 tests administered statewide, only 5,967 Georgians have tested positive for the virus.

The local hospital numbers differ from the DPH numbers because the state records cases by county of residence while hospitals may be treating people from surrounding counties.

So far, there have been 198 deaths in the state. The mortality rate for people who have contracted COVID-19 fluctuates just around 3%. Many of those who have died as a result were older and had underlying health conditions.

The state health department also began releasing a list of nursing homes with coronavirus outbreaks.

Only one Floyd County nursing home was listed, Rome Health and Rehabilitation Center on Redmond Circle. This week a representative said they’ve had at least 15 cases, with four residents being treated in area hospitals.

Maple Ridge and Townsend Park nursing homes in Bartow County were also listed.

On Friday, Gov. Brian Kemp issued a new executive order deputizing all Georgia sheriff’s offices and giving them permission to enforce the shelter-in-place orders.

Floyd County Sheriff Tim Burkhalter said that they already have been trying to enforce Rome and Floyd County’s emergency orders and telling people to not go out for anything but essential businesses.

The sheriff said that he was thankful that the governor issued the statement and was “putting some teeth” into the order.

“We need this now and we need to be responsible,” Burkhalter said.

Kemp’s order says people must stay home unless they are providing or receiving food, household supplies, medical supplies or services, sanitation, safety services or essential home maintenance.

It also says people can exercise outside as long as they stay 6 feet apart. It closes all dine-in restaurants, bars, gyms, movie theaters and other entertainment venues.

The state’s mandate also overrides local orders. Leaders from counties across the state have voiced concern that Kemp’s order may actually have weakened local measures.

“I will be deputizing several officers from the Floyd County Police Department and the Rome City Police Department so that we can work together to keep our county safe. These measures may not be popular in the eyes of some citizens, but they are necessary in order to protect the citizens of Floyd County,” Burkhalter said. “We want to take this opportunity to encourage everyone to abide by the Shelter in Place order and remain at their homes unless it is to travel to/from work or for essential necessities like groceries, medications, doctor appointments. Take this time to spend with your loved ones.”

Staff Writer Olivia Morley and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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