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State health officials report first COVID-19 death in Forsyth County
The number of infections in Georgia topped 1,000 on Tuesday with 38 deaths statewide
The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is depicted in an illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020. - photo by Associated Press

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Forsyth County's first death related to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, was reported Tuesday by the Georgia Department of Public Health.

The individual was an 88-year-old male, according to the department, one of 38 people in Georgia who have died since the coronavirus outbreak. 

It's unknown whether the individual had any underlying medical conditions, according to department records. The DPH could provide no further information.

Forsyth County had eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 by the end of Tuesday during a day in which the number of infections in Georgia topped 1,000.

While the Georgia Department of Public Health reported a total of 800 total cases in Georgia at 7 p.m. on Monday, that number grew to 1,097 by the same time Tuesday. The department is updating totals at noon and 7 p.m. daily.

Nearly three quarters of counties in Georgia now have a confirmed case of COVID-19, led by Fulton with 191 known cases. A total of 79 cases are still listed in unknown counties by the GDPH.

Little information has been available about the county's positive COVID-19 cases, except that one is confirmed to be an employee at a Publix in Cumming and another is an employee at a manufacturing plant in the county.

Publix officials confirmed Monday night that an employee at its Cruse Marketplace store, at 1735 Buford Highway in Cumming, tested positive. The company said the store has completed a disinfection-level deep cleaning, using guidelines from the CDC and the Georgia Department of Public Health.

“At Publix, the health and well-being of our associates, our customers and our communities remains our top priority,” said Maria Brous, Publix Director of Communications in a statement. “Following our disinfection protocol and with the support of the public health department, the store is operating normal business hours. We are thinking of our associate and their family during this time and wishing them a swift recovery.”

Publix also said they were told by the Georgia Department of Public Health that store customers are considered to be at low risk of exposure and the products sold at the store do not represent a risk to customers.

Panduit Corporation confirmed one of the company's employees at its manufacturing plant, located at 1819 Atlanta Highway in Cumming, also tested positive.

As the number of cases starts to rise in Georgia, more protections are being put into place to prevent the spread of the disease.

Gov. Brian Kemp ordered for the closure of bars and nightclubs throughout the state and the banning of large gatherings during a press conference Monday afternoon. The order will be in effect until April 6.

The Georgia Department of Public Health will be authorized to close any business for noncompliance.

Kemp will work with the Department of Public Health to issue an executive order to require sheltering in place or quarantining for high-risk populations, such as those who live in long-term care facilities, have chronic lung disease, are undergoing cancer treatment, or have a positive COVID-19 test, are assumed to have it, or have been exposed.

To address a shortage of health care workers, graduate nurses who have not yet taken their nursing exams will be able to seek a temporary license through the Georgia Board of Nursing, Kemp said.