The Georgia Department of Public Health reported 55 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Bulloch County on Friday – the most local infections in a single day since 59 were reported on Jan. 22, more than six months ago.
After recording only 39 new COVID cases for the entire month of June in Bulloch, there have been 218 confirmed cases in July, with one day left in the month. At the same time, patients hospitalized at East Georgia Regional Medical Center have gone from two on July 7 to 23 as of Friday, said Ted Wynn, Bulloch’s Public Safety/Emergency Management Agency director.
“The surge in hospital patients is very concerning,” Wynn said. “I urge all Bulloch County residents to take this rise in cases very seriously. We have made so much progress and we don’t want to revert to what it was like in January.
“If you haven’t gotten a vaccine yet, please look at the facts again, talk to your doctor and friends and get the shot. It might just save your life or that of a loved one.”
An uptick in cases is occurring in all 50 states, but the Centers for Disease Control said numbers of new cases are much higher in states and areas with low vaccination rates, which includes Georgia.
According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, the COVID case rate in Georgia has increased 204% over the last 14-day period. On Thursday, confirmed cases and likely cases totaled 4,612 – the highest daily number since mid-February. Hospitalizations have increased by about 50% in the last 14 days, and deaths have increased by about 18% in the same period.
Residents getting vaccinated has stalled statewide and only 40% of Georgians are fully vaccinated. That compares to 67% in Vermont, 64% in Massachusetts and 63% in Maine. The one southern state above 50% is Virginia at 54%. Only Idaho, Louisiana, Wyoming, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama have worse vaccination rates than Georgia.
The CDC estimates the Delta variant accounts for 78% of new COVID cases in Georgia, making getting a vaccination more urgent than ever, said Nancy Nydam, director of Communications for the Department of Health, in an email.
All Georgians aged 12 and older are eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19. If you receive either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, you must get your second dose to ensure you are fully protected. Individuals are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their final dose of vaccine.
“The Delta variant spreads more than twice as easily from one person to another, compared with earlier strains,” Nydam wrote. “The highest spread of cases and severe outcomes are happening in places with low vaccination rates, and virtually all hospitalizations and deaths continue to be among the unvaccinated.”
The Delta variant is causing some “vaccine breakthrough infections,” Nydam wrote, meaning fully vaccinated people are being infected in a small number of cases. “But even so, most breakthrough infections are mild.”
In areas with substantial and high transmission, the CDC recommends that everyone (including fully vaccinated individuals) wear a mask in public indoor settings to help prevent spread of COVID-19 and the Delta variant.
“I would agree with the CDC,” Wynn said. “Even if you’ve done the right thing and gotten fully vaccinated, I think at this time it would be wise to wear a mask if you go to a restaurant or are in the grocery store.”