• A funeral on February 29 in Albany, Georgia may be thr possible starting points of the state's coronavirus outbreak
  • The funeral was attended by a man later confirmed as the first COVID-19 patient in the state
  • Georgia now has over 9,000 confirmed coronavirus cases

Georgia’s Albany is a small city but it has become the fourth hardest-hit area in the United States by capita in coronavirus cases, and a funeral is believed to be central in the COVID-19 outbreak in the state.

First reported by the New York Times late in March, the funeral in question, which took place on February 29, was attended by a mourner who may have spread the COVID-19 strain without knowing at that time that he was already infected. The mourner was later confirmed as the first coronavirus case in the state.

Health experts in the state of Georgia noted that the case is an example of how fast the novel coronavirus can spread among attendees in events that draw crowds.

Since the funeral, six of the deceased person’s siblings have since contracted the COVID-19 strain, with one of them having gone through to critical stage. About two dozen of the deceased’s relatives have also fallen ill.

Aside from relatives experiencing some symptoms, the pastor who carried out the masses for the funeral also tested positive of COVID-19. Another funeral on March 7 is also believed to have further spread the novel virus in Albany, the Daily Mail reported.

As of Tuesday evening, Albany registered a total of 967 confirmed coronavirus cases. The city only has an estimated 77,000 residents, which quals to 659 cases for every 100,00 of the population when compared to New York City, where there are over 74,000 COVID-19 cases.

The state now has 350 deaths linked to the novel coronavirus, following 19 new fatalities recorded on Tuesday evening.

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) also announced 338 new coronavirus cases, bringing the state’s total to 9,156. Dougherty County, where Albany is located, remains the hardest-hit in the entire state with 56 deaths.

According to Atlanta News Now, the DPH further detailed that at least 53.7 percent of the patients who succumbed to the COVID-19 strain in Georgia had underlying health conditions.

Of the nearly 33,800 tests carried out throughout the state of Georgia, around 27.1 percent were positive, with patients aged 60 and older account for 36 percent of the state’s confirmed cases.

The latest deaths in Georgia mark a decline from Monday’s death toll at 35. The state is currently the 11th hardest-hit in the entire United States, but it is among the numbered states that recorded what could be a coronavirus “super-spreading” event.