With the spread of COVID-19 continuing a massive downturn in Bulloch County, Public Safety/Emergency Management Agency Director Ted Wynn decided the daily local updates about the virus he began sending out on April 8, 2020 are no longer necessary.
“Through strong local political leadership from Mayor Jonathan McCollar and Chairman Roy Thompson, city council and county commissioners, along with wonderful volunteer organizations like ‘Squashing the Spread Bulloch,’ we have hopefully endured the worst of this pandemic,” Wynn said.
His final daily report was sent out Monday and Wynn said the reports would switch to weekly, with the next one coming out May 31.
“Bulloch Emergency Management will continue to monitor numbers daily from sources and adjust, as necessary,” he said. “If we see something the community needs to be concerned about, we will report it as soon as it is verified.”
With three new cases confirmed in the past three days, Bulloch County has recorded only 35 cases in May and no confirmed deaths have been reported, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.
The number of confirmed local cases has seen a huge decline since January. In January, there were 853 confirmed cases in Bulloch. That dropped to 452 in February, 102 in March, 98 in April and 35 in May with six days left in the month.
COVID case numbers around the nation have seen a dramatic decline as well. On January 8, 2021, 300,669 new cases were recorded in a single day in the United States. On January 14, 4,327 Americans died due to the coronavirus.
Comparatively, on Sunday, 14,144 new cases were reported and 189 Americans died from COVID.
Health officials created the rapid rollout of the vaccine starting in mid-January as the primary factor in the decline across all communities.
“The vaccines overperformed, which is the best news possible,” said Dr. Jeffrey Engel of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists. “So now you can begin to peel back some of these other layers of mitigation like mask use and screening.”
While vaccinated people can still catch the virus, they face little risk of serious illness from it.
And despite the low infection incidences, Bulloch still ranks near the bottom of Georgia counties in vaccination rate – only 23% percent of residents have received at least one dose and only 19% are fully vaccinated.
That compares to 61.5% of the nation with at least one dose and 49.8% fully vaccinated.
“I got the vaccine the first time it became available to me,” Wynn said. “The vaccine is safe, effective and easy to get. While our numbers are good, they could be near zero with more vaccinated residents.”
The county now has a total of 5,289 confirmed cases since the pandemic began in March 2020. Overall, COVID cases have resulted in a total of 63 confirmed deaths and 225 local residents being hospitalized.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to those impacted locally and beyond by this dreaded virus, especially those who have lost loved ones, and those still battling the effects of COVID-19,” Wynn said. “Stay strong and stay smart Bulloch County.”
East Georgia Regional Medical Center reported treating one COVID-19 patient, with one on a ventilator Monday.
Across the state, there were 215 new cases on Monday, 321 on Sunday and 461 on Saturday. The state's total number of confirmed cases is now up to 893,624.
The state reported zero deaths on both Monday and Sunday and 23 on Saturday. Georgia’s death toll now stands at 17,930 since March 2020.
Across Georgia, 3,963,774 residents have received at least one dose as of Monday and 3,242,995 are fully vaccinated. The Department of Health reports 38% of residents have received at least one dose and 31% are fully vaccinated.
According to the CDC, 164 million Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 131 million have been fully vaccinated.
According to statistics from the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, as of Monday afternoon, 590,167 Americans had died from coronavirus.
Also, Johns Hopkins reported the U.S. has had 33,137,285 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic.
The Bulloch County Schools system has had one new case last week and no new cases so far this week. A total of 652 COVID cases have been reported since classes started on Aug. 17. Since the beginning of March, the system has reported a total of 60 new cases.
Georgia Southern had three total cases reported May 17-23 — two self-reported and one university-confirmed case. GS reported four total cases for the week of May 10-16.
East Georgia State College has reported no new cases since April 18. The college has had a total of 159 cases across its three campuses since Aug. 17.
Ogeechee Technical College has reported no new cases since the week of April 18. Ogeechee Tech has had a total of 73 cases across its campuses since Aug. 17.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.