The Georgia Department of Public Health is reporting the number of confirmed new cases of COVID-19 is down 60% in Georgia in the past month and the decline is even steeper in Bulloch County.
On Sept. 2, Georgia was averaging 6,722 new cases every day and is now down to 2,688 daily cases. On Sept. 3, Bulloch had a seven-day total of 487 new cases for the previous week. For the most recent seven-day period that ended Friday, 69 new cases were reported – an 86% decrease from a month earlier.
Nonetheless, Gov. Brian Kemp cautioned unvaccinated Georgians thinking that the COVID-19 pandemic is over, saying the state could risk a fifth surge of the pandemic this winter even though cases are steeply declining from the fourth surge that peaked a month ago.
“Today I want to emphasize the importance of not waiting until the next wave of COVID cases to get vaccinated,” Kemp said. “Given that our increase in cases and hospitalizations in 2021 was similar in timing to surges seen in 2020, we can only assume that a winter increase is also possible.”
There are only 11 counties where more than 50% of residents are fully vaccinated, although that includes the state's four most populous counties — Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb and DeKalb. Of the state’s 159 counties, there are three dozen counties, including Bulloch, where fewer than a third have been fully inoculated.
Experts have long said the key to ending the U.S. epidemic is vaccinating the vast majority of the American public — perhaps as much as 90%. But of the more than 283 million Americans age 12 and older who are eligible for shots, only about 65% — 184 million — are fully vaccinated, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Children under 12 are not yet eligible to get vaccinated, meaning only about 55% of the U.S. public is fully protected.
Despite the decline in cases, the state is still seeing an average of about 110 people per day dying due to COVID. In Bulloch County, following a week where the Georgia Department of Public Health reported 12 Bulloch County residents died due to COVID-19, four locals died this week, according to the DPH.
Since Aug. 10, there have been 25 confirmed and 26 probable deaths – 51 total – of Bulloch citizens due to COVID reported by the Department of Health.
Also, while the total number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals statewide has fallen by almost half, the crush on intensive care units is easing more slowly, with 90% of ICU beds still occupied, according to the Associated Press.
Ted Wynn, director of the Bulloch Public Safety/Emergency Management Agency, said East Georgia Regional Medical Center had 24 patients hospitalized with COVID on Friday, with 12 on ventilators.
Local vaccine booster shots
Americans who took the Pfizer vaccine and are 65 and older and others vulnerable because of underlying health problems are eligible for a booster – once they're six months past their last dose.
The Georgia Department of Health advised anyone who meets the eligibility guidelines and has received the Pfizer vaccine to check with their doctor or local pharmacy to make an appointment to get a booster.
Decisions from the FDA and CDC on boosters for Americans who received Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines are still to come.
Bulloch County reported 24 new confirmed cases of coronavirus since Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases to 7,864 since the pandemic began. The Department of Health also reported two probable deaths of local residents since Wednesday.
In Georgia, there were 2,518 new COVID cases reported Friday, and 3,911 reported Thursday. There were 143 confirmed deaths on Friday and 157 on Thursday. Since the pandemic began, 22,626 Georgia residents have died due to COVID
The Associated Press contributed to this report.