COVID-19 cases in Douglas County have more than doubled since the beginning of July, according to statistics from the state Department of Public Health.

From July 1-24, the county saw 999 new cases, a 103% increase.

There have also been nine new deaths caused by the virus this month.

On July 1 there were 971 COVID-19 cases in Douglas. The number had jumped to 1,970 when the latest numbers from the state were released Friday afternoon.

“We are seeing rising numbers,” said Dr. Janet Memark, medical director at Cobb & Douglas Public Health. “We have seen more than 600 cases in the last few weeks.”

Surging numbers of COVID-19 deaths continued in the state as the number of confirmed cases in the state surpassed 150,000 this week.

Since the beginning of the month, the county has seen an average of 333 new cases per week.

Because of the increased cases, several hospitals are reaching capacity.

Memark said she wasn’t sure how close Wellstar Douglas Hospital was to reaching capacity, but she said “that they have high volumes of admissions for their inpatient and intensive care beds.”

The state Department of Public Health has seen a continuing decrease in the median age of positive COVID-19 cases over the month with people in the age range of 18-29 accounting for most of the new cases.

Health officials attribute this increase to younger people getting tested more and not following the strict guidelines that older people are still following when out in public.

The county has made a big push in promoting the wearing of masks, and several large retailers and supermarkets are requiring masks upon entering their stores.

In a few weeks, school will be back in session. The county has elected to do digital learning for at least the first nine weeks of the new school year, which begins on Aug. 17.

Memark said the digital learning should help decrease students’ chances of contracting the virus.

“At this time, the community transmission of COVID-19 is high,” she said. “We have a high number of cases, outbreaks and delays in testing results. Adding students back to face-to-face school at this time would be difficult in the face of these challenges. We all want to get back to face-to-face instruction as soon as possible, and we are hopeful that virtual learning will not only help keep our children safe and healthy, but that this decision will also help slow the spread of COVID-19. Although all of the effects of COVID-19 in children is yet to be known, we do know they can transmit it to vulnerable individuals at high risk of death-including the elderly and people with chronic medical conditions like diabetes, obesity and hypertension.”

Monday is the first official day that teams can begin football practice. The Georgia High School Association has pushed back the start of the season to Sept. 4.