The Retreat at Canton as seen in 2018. An outbreak of COVID-19 was reported at the facility this week.

The Retreat at Canton as seen in 2018. An outbreak of COVID-19 was reported at the facility this week.

Three residents and one employee of a senior living community in Canton are sick, and roughly 50 people are isolated, after COVID-19 appeared earlier this month.

Officials at the Retreat at Canton, a Phoenix Senior Living community, said Monday the coronavirus tests are presumptive positive, meaning the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not yet confirmed them.

As of Tuesday, the Georgia Department of Public Health identified 146 COVID-19 cases throughout the state. The numbers update daily at noon.

Training for all employees to recognize symptoms of COVID-19 as well as to understand how to prevent transmission of the virus began March 2, spokesperson Yolanda Hunter said in a press release.

Staff immediately isolated symptomatic residents and contacted their doctors, which likely slowed the virus's spread quickly in the community.

The employee who tested positive remains asymptomatic and isolated at home, Hunter said.

On Tuesday, a family’s birthday celebration at the facility took place at a resident’s room window, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. They waved to her and held up a handmade placard that said “Happy Birthday Nanny.”

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All employees who had direct contact with the three residents are under a 14-day isolation at home and are providing daily reports of their condition, Hunter said. Additionally, family members of the three residents who may have been exposed are under a 14-day isolation. People who are identified as having been exposed and experiencing symptoms will be contacted directly by a DPH epidemiologist.

Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey said she is watching closely as the number of COVID-19 cases multiplies.

"Obviously, the more you test, the more you find," Toomey said Tuesday while speaking to GPB Political Rewind host Bill Nigut. "What that's indicating to me is this virus was here probably for a while, and we just didn't recognize it."

However, tests are still in short supply and many people with symptoms of coronavirus may never know if they have it because they can't access testing. 

Georgians should not compare COVID-19 to the flu, Toomey said, because there is no vaccine for the deadlier virus.

"It has to be measured in dog years," she said. "One week of COVID-19 is like 10 weeks of another virus because it spreads so quickly."

That's why social distancing and staying home will save lives.

"I just can't emphasize enough that we have to do this now to save lives and protect all state's residents now and in the future whether it's two weeks, two months, whatever it takes," she said. "This commitment is necessary."