ATLANTA (AP) — Deaths remain at elevated levels and newly detected cases keep rising, but the number of Georgians in the hospital with COVID-19 is dropping a little, one hopeful sign in a state where infections have been flaring since early June.

Those mixed signals are what pass for progress right now in Georgia’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of people in Georgia hospitals fell for the fifth straight day on Sunday, to 3,079, but remain above where they were on July 19. That tentative trend could be good news for Georgia hospitals, many of whom have been hard-pressed to find critical care beds for the sickest patients with the respiratory illness.

The share of the state’s critical care beds in use also eased slightly on Sunday, as did the number of people on ventilators. Both those numbers include some patients with other illnesses.

Georgia’s total number of confirmed cases rose to nearly 168,000 Sunday, although experts warn that many more coronavirus infections go undetected. Although many people have only mild symptoms and most people recover, the illness can cause severe illness and death. Georgia’s total number of deaths crept close to 3,500 on Sunday. Only three new deaths were recorded, but weekend cases and deaths often aren’t reported until the work week begins.

Georgia has averaged 46 deaths a day over the last week, down slightly from the record average of 47 hit on Saturday. The surge in cases that began in June has translated into a surge in hospitalizations, while deaths began to soar about two weeks ago, as some people never recovered.

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Georgia remains in the top 10 for the share of tests that are coming back positive according to numbers tracked by The Associated Press, one sign that many infections are going undetected. The rise in detected infections has plateaued in recent days, but is not yet clearly going down. With the state promising increases in strained test capacity, the number of confirmed cases could begin rising again.



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