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COVID vaccination clinic scheduled to open up in Bulloch
Georgia expands group now eligible for shots

Georgia’s Southeast Health District announced Wednesday it is setting up a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Bulloch County and is now scheduling inoculation appointments for an expanded group that includes anyone 65 and older and public safety personnel.

Katie Hadden, public information officer for the health district, said the vaccination appointments will begin Monday.

“With much of our health care community having received their COVID-19 vaccine, the Southeast Health District will now begin scheduling vaccine appointments for those in the expanded definition of Phase 1A,” Hadden said. “Effective January 11, Phase 1A, which now includes health care workers in clinical settings, staff and residents of long-term care facilities, all law enforcement and fire personnel and adults aged 65 and older (and their caregivers as applicable). 

Hadden said area residents who fall into this these expanded categories may call (855) 473-4374 to schedule an appointment at the Bulloch County Health Department on west Altman St.

Mass vaccination clinics also are being set up in Appling, Coffee and Ware counties inside the Southeast Health District.

Meanwhile, Georgia officials say they have identified the state's first case of the COVID-19 variant that's been seen in the United Kingdom.

Lab tests found an 18-year-old Georgia man had the variant, the state Department of Health said Tuesday. It said the man had no travel history and was in isolation at his home.

Cases of the United Kingdom variant have also been reported in Colorado, California, Florida and New York.

“The emergence of this variant in our state should be a wake-up call for all Georgians,” Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey said in a statement. “Even as we begin roll out of a COVID-19 vaccine, we must not let down our guard and ignore basic prevention measures – wear a mask, social distance and wash your hands frequently.”

Preliminary information suggests the variant is significantly more contagious, though there is no evidence so far that it causes more severe illness or increased risk of death, state health officials said.

Hospitalizations keep rising

Aside from the variant threat, the hospital crisis in Georgia continues to escalate. On Wednesday, about 90 percent of the hospital ICUs were filled, according to Georgia Health News.

COVID cases that require hospitalization continue to increase in Georgia, setting another single-day high on Wednesday with 5,642 state residents currently hospitalized with coronavirus. Georgia has seen hospitalizations increase almost every day since Nov. 15. In fact, since that day, daily hospitalizations have risen from 1,978 to 5,642 — a 185-percent increase in seven and a half weeks.

Across the United States, cases that require hospitalization hit another peak on Tuesday with 131,215 Americans in the hospital with COVID on that day. National hospitalizations have increased 176% from 47,615 on Nov. 1 to 131,215 on Tuesday, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

New COVID numbers for Wednesday were not available as of 8 p.m. due to a high volume of data to process, according to the Georgia Department of Health website.

Public Safety/Emergency Management Agency Director Ted Wynn said Bulloch recorded 16 new cases on Tuesday. Wynn said Bulloch has now recorded 3,854 total COVID cases, which have resulted in 36 deaths and 166 local residents being hospitalized since the pandemic began in March.

Also, the state Department of Health is reporting an additional 22 deaths in Bulloch probably were caused by COVID. According to the Georgia DPH, the 22 non-confirmed deaths represent Bulloch citizens who received a positive antigen/rapid test for COVID-19, developed COVID-19 symptoms and subsequently died. 

Wynn said East Georgia Regional Medical Center staff on Tuesday were caring for 31 COVID patients, with eight patients on ventilators.

State, national case numbers

Georgia recorded 6,153 new cases Tuesday, and the state's total number of confirmed cases is now up to 597,208. Georgia reported 68 deaths on Tuesday, raising the death toll to 9,966.

According to statistics from the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, as of Wednesday afternoon, 359,977 Americans had died from coronavirus. Also, Johns Hopkins reported the U.S. has had 21,225,179 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic. 

Bulloch Schools

The Bulloch County Schools system reported 14 new cases the week of Dec. 27–Jan. 2 and one new case this week for a total of 252 COVID cases since classes started on Aug. 17.

Local colleges

Georgia Southern recorded 20 new cases for the week of Dec. 27–Jan. 3. Seventeen of the new cases were on the Statesboro campus. Georgia Southern will report again on Monday, Jan. 1.

East Georgia State College reported two new cases on its Swainsboro campus Sunday. The college has had a total of 107 cases across its three campuses since Aug. 17.

Ogeechee Technical College reported no new cases for the week of Dec. 28–Jan. 3. The college has not had a positive case at its Bulloch County campus since the week of Oct. 19–25 and has had a total of 39 cases across its campuses since Aug. 17. 

Testing sites

The Bulloch County Health Department, 1 W. Altman St. in Statesboro, continues to serve as a COVID-19 testing site, or specimen point of collection. It operates 8 a.m. till 11 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. To schedule a free test, call (855) 473-4374 or visit, where a test can be scheduled online.

Additional free COVID-19 testing continues Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon at Luetta Moore Park, 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

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