An explosion of new COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks in Bulloch County continues to push health care and Emergency Medical Service workers to the limit and Public Safety/Emergency Management Agency Director Ted Wynn is pleading with residents to slow the latest coronavirus surge by getting vaccinated and wearing a mask.
The Georgia Department of Public Health said Bulloch County recorded 275 cases over the weekend, and the 604 new cases since Aug. 16 is the most in any one week. In fact, Bulloch has seen 1,030 new confirmed COVID cases in the past two weeks. Previously, the worst entire month for COVID cases was this past January with 860.
“COVID is a very real threat to public safety,” Wynn said. “What concerns me the most is the strain this is putting on our medical community. EGRMC is doing all they can to meet the demands this most recent surge is causing, and doing it well. The doctors, nurses, technicians and support staff are working against enormous odds to take care of our community.
“Bulloch EMS personnel are experiencing new levels of exhaustion. And burn out among all these essential personnel is real. We can all do more to protect these precious but limited human resources we all need. Get vaccinated. Wear a mask.”
On Monday, East Georgia Regional Medical Center reported another record high of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 – 61, with 17 on ventilators.
The hospital has now almost doubled the previous high number of patients, 31, seen during December and January, and CEO Stephen Pennington said the most strain is not on enough beds or available treatments.
“We are okay with our supplies and equipment right now, but our staff is stretched thin,” he said. “Our staff is very stressed, mostly because they care so deeply for their patients and families. Please keep our patients and employees in your thoughts and prayers.”
Wynn is hoping Monday’s full approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine will convince more people to finally get the shot.
“I am so glad to see this FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine,” he said. “I think approval for Moderna will follow soon. If this was the excuse not to get it, they can now remove that.
“These vaccines are safe and they do what they are intended to do, and that is keep persons from becoming seriously ill, and having to seek emergency care. There are some that do get ill even after vaccine, but well over 95% in hospitals are unvaccinated. Seek the wise counsel of your doctor and not Facebook or other social media on whether to get a vaccine.”
Overall, vaccine rates remain low across Georgia and even lower in Bulloch County. Only 33% of Bulloch residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine. That compares to 49% in Georgia and 60% in the U.S.
“Our vaccination rate in Bulloch County is very disappointing to me,” Wynn said. “The top reason I hear that people won’t get it is ‘I don’t know what’s in it,’ or ‘It hasn’t been approved.’ To that I say again seek medical advice. The physician you trust will tell you what is in it, and that it is safe.”
Vaccines are readily available at area pharmacies, doctors’ offices and the Bulloch County Health Department.
Georgia Southern University
After reporting 188 total cases across its campuses in Statesboro, Savannah and Hinesville, Georgia Southern last week, the number of COVID cases for Aug. 16-22 more than doubled to 434 – 96 university confirmed and 338 self-reported – for the week of Aug. 9-15. Of the total number, 389 cases were reported in Statesboro.
In Monday’s weekly online report, the university said: “Georgia Southern’s COVID-19 numbers are reflecting similar trends in the region, state and country. Recognizing that COVID-19 vaccines offer safe, effective protection, we continue to urge all students, faculty, staff and visitors to get vaccinated either on campus or with a local provider. Additionally, everyone is encouraged to wear a mask or face covering while inside campus facilities.”
Bulloch County Schools
The number of cases reported by Bulloch County Schools in the first three weeks of classes for the 2021-22 school year already far exceeds the total number of cases for the entire 2020-21 school year.
With 474 cases reported for Aug. 15-21, Bulloch schools now has 872 total cases in three weeks. There were 652 cases reported for all of 2020-21.
Statesboro High and Southeast Bulloch High, the system’s two largest schools, reported the most new cases last week with 121 and 73, respectively. Among middle schools, Langston Chapel had the most with 41, and Mill Creek and the most among elementary schools with 26.
Georgia, national cases
The Department of Health reported 16,915 confirmed cases since Friday and the total number of cases since the pandemic began now exceeds one million at 1,036,304.
New cases around the U.S. are now averaging about 149,000 per day, up 6,000 since Friday, according to Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, along with an average of 1,008 deaths per day due to COVID.
MAKO Medical offers testing services on Railroad St. in downtown Statesboro Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on the last Saturday of each month from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
MAKO will ask for your insurance, but patients without insurance will not have to pay anything for testing. Results are available in two to three days.