Bulloch County recorded 74 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the past week, and only two weeks after the number COVID patients at East Georgia Regional Medical Center was reduced to three, it was reported Monday that 19 people are now hospitalized with the virus.
The rise in cases is following large gatherings over the Fourth of July holiday and the overwhelming number of people being infected are unvaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Bulloch County has seen its number of new cases increase from 21 per 100,000 population on July 7 to 130 per 100,000 on Monday.
“We’re going in the wrong direction,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, describing himself as “very frustrated.”
The nation’s top infectious diseases expert said the United States is in an “unnecessary predicament” of soaring COVID-19 cases fueled by unvaccinated Americans and the virulent delta variant
More than 163 million people, or 49% of the total U.S. population, are fully vaccinated, according to CDC data. Of those eligible for the vaccine, aged 12 and over, the figure rises to 57%.
“This is an issue predominantly among the unvaccinated, which is the reason why we’re out there, practically pleading with the unvaccinated people to go out and get vaccinated,” Fauci said.
Compared to the nation as a whole, vaccines rates are far lower in Bulloch County and Georgia. As of Monday, only 26% of local residents had been fully vaccinated, while 29% had received at least one shot. Bulloch’s rates are tied with Jenkins County for the worst in the area.
Georgia ranks among the 10 worst for vaccination rates, with 40% of residents being fully vaccinated and 45% having at least one shot, as of Monday.
Also, Georgia has seen the number of daily COVID cases jump from an average of 318 per day on Jun 28 to 1,317 per day on Monday, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.
Across the nation, the seven-day rolling average for daily new cases rose to more than 51,000 on Monday, up from less than 13,700 on July 6, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The city of Savannah announced Monday that it is re-imposing a requirement that people wear masks in public.
In making the announcement, Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said: “Are we effectively punishing those who did the right thing, who took the vaccine? And the answer is yes, we probably are," Johnson said. “But the minority is being punished because of the inaction of the majority.”
The city of Atlanta public schools system decided last week to require all students and staff to wear masks when school starts next week.
Due to the rise in cases, East Georgia Regional Medical Center changed its policy of allowing two visitors per patient to one and the mask requirement for everyone remains in place.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.