With COVID-19 cases seeing a significant increase in five states and vaccination rates falling around the nation, health officials are concerned that variants of the coronavirus may affect areas of the country with low vaccination rates more severely.
Georgia continues to languish in the bottom 10 of states for getting vaccinated, and Bulloch County lags behind all neighboring counties save one in vaccine rate.
According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, Bulloch County has 20,931 residents who have received at least one vaccine dose, or 27%, and 19,032 people who are fully vaccinated, or 25%.
Among area counties, Bulloch is tied with Jenkins County for the lowest vaccination rate at 27%. At 41%, Bryan County has the highest area rate, while Screven County is next at 36%. Candler stands at 33%, Evans 32%, Effingham 31% and Emanuel 28%.
Vaccinations are readily available at area pharmacies, doctors’ offices, the Bulloch County Health Department and East Georgia Regional Medical Center.
The concern of even a small resurgence of the virus is heightened because health officials are tracking the potent delta variant of the virus that ravaged India and is spreading in the U.S. The variant now accounts for about 1 in 5 virus samples nationally. The more transmissible mutation has gained a foothold in Mountain West states — Nevada, Utah and Wyoming — and heartland states — Missouri and Arkansas. The large majority of those infected are young and unvaccinated.
Across the nation, the CDC reports about 180 million Americans have had at least one dose, and 153.7 million are fully vaccinated. Among people 65 years and older, 88% have had one shot, while 78% are fully vaccinated.
After reporting 23 new COVID-19 cases the previous week, its most in two months, the Department of Health reported seven new cases in Bulloch this past week. Bulloch now has recorded 5,230 cases since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
In Georgia, no deaths were reported on Sunday or Monday for the second consecutive week, and the number of daily cases is at its lowest level since March 2020.
Across the nation, new cases are running at about 5,000 a day on average, down from more than 250,000 per day in early January. Average deaths per day are down to about 200, according to Johns Hopkins University, after topping out at more than 3,400 in mid-January.
For the third consecutive week since the university began tracking COVID cases across its three campuses in July 2020, there were no weekly cases reported of COVID-19 in the past week. The report follows the sixth completed week of the summer semester.
According to statistics from the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, as of Monday afternoon, 604,107 Americans had died from coronavirus.
Also on Monday, Johns Hopkins reported the U.S. has had 33,638,090 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.