Following a surge in July, the free COVID test sites in Rome and Cartersville saw steep declines in use in August. Surprisingly, both Floyd and Bartow counties reported the largest increases in new cases in the same month. Or to summarize: Fewer tests, more positive results, contrary to popular opinion. Or is it?
One reason given for the disparity: More “positives” were coming from non-public health testing, especially nursing homes in both counties. We’ll look at those numbers in a minute.
First, the tests themselves: The Northwest District of the Georgia Department of Public Health reports:
- Floyd County (West Rome Baptist): 4,673 tests in August vs. 7,610 in July. (Down 38.6 percent)
- Bartow County (Clarence Brown Center): 2,012 tests in August vs. 7,326 in July. (Down 72.5%)
We compared those with the daily virus updates we receive from the Georgia Department of Public Health. In August, both Floyd and Bartow counties reported the greatest monthly increase in positive tests since the pandemic began in March.
Between July 30 and Sept. 1, Floyd County posted 1,145 new positive tests;. 955 were recorded in Bartow County. For six months ending Sept. 1, Floyd County had recorded 2,313 positive tests; Bartow County, 2,450. That means almost half of all Floyd cases since March 1 were detected in August alone — despite the sharp drop in free tests at the West Rome site.
Again, some of this jump in positive tests is coming from “non-public health screenings.” Remember there are private testing services such as the Redmond Urgent Care site on Turner McCall in Rome.
We likewise track changes in long-term healthcare facilities each weekday provided by the state Department of Community Health. Each evening by 5, the public gets a statewide update on facility residents testing positive, fatalities from the virus, resident recoveries and how many staffers have COVID. We did notice a jump in a Rome facility as well as one each in Polk and Chattooga counties in August (the Polk and Chattooga numbers are exclusive to Floyd and Bartow counties).
As of Wednesday, there had been 276 resident and staff cases at 11 Floyd County centers since April and 273 at seven centers in Bartow County. By percentage, long-term healthcare cases accounted for 12 percent of the total positive tests reported in Floyd County since March and 11.1 percent in Bartow County.
We’ll continue to track the monthly test results in both counties in September. Those numbers could reflect a recent shift not only in testing locations but days of service as well. For that, please see below.
Speaking of free tests: Effective Tuesday, Public Health changed testing locations and days of the tests. The tests are drive-up and no appointments are needed.
- Floyd County: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; first and third Saturdays, Coosa Valley Fairgrounds, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
- Bartow County: Monday, Thursday and Friday, plus second, third and fourth Saturdays, The Church at Liberty Square, 2001 Liberty Square Drive, Cartersville, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Bartow site closes at 4 p.m. Mondays.
- Gordon County: Tuesday and Wednesday, plus first Saturday, Senior Center, 150 Cambridge Court, Calhoun, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
- Chattooga County: Tuesday and second and fourth Saturdays, North Summerville Baptist Church, 119 Maplewood Drive, Summerville. 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
- Polk County: Tuesday as well as the fourth Saturday, former Department of Labor office, 262 N. Park Blvd., Cedartown, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.