Splash in the Boro opens for the 2021 season this weekend, and summer camps at the Averitt Center, Georgia Southern University and the Statesboro-Bulloch County Recreation Department are set to begin in the coming weeks.
After more than a year of cancelled or postponed events and activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bulloch County residents and people across the state and nation are planning for a summer that’s almost back to normal.
Large swaths of the country and world are also starting to get back to normal after a crisis blamed for 3.4 million deaths globally, including more than 587,000 in the U.S.
With COVID-19 cases on the decline and with more than a third of the U.S. population fully vaccinated, millions are deciding whether to continue wearing face masks, which were both a shield against infection and a point of heated political debate over the last year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week said people who are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear a mask indoors or outdoors and can stop social distancing in most places. Fully vaccinated means two weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, or two weeks after the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot.
However, the CDC says everyone – vaccinated or unvaccinated – should continue to wear a mask in certain places. Masks are still required on public transportation – buses, trains and planes – and in other settings like hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters. Some states and businesses and stores are dropping their mask rules for fully vaccinated people because of the CDC change, while others are keeping them in place.
With a national goal of 70% of Americans to have received at least one dose of vaccine by July 4, the nation reached the 60% mark on Tuesday.
And despite being nowhere near the national percentage of vaccinated residents, Bulloch County has reported only six new cases of coronavirus in the past six days, including zero on Tuesday and last Friday.
As of Wednesday, 17,099 Bulloch residents – 22% – had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. The number of residents fully vaccinated is up to 14,562 – 19%.
Across Georgia, 3,894,452 residents have received at least one dose as of Wednesday and 3,153,385 are fully vaccinated. The Department of Health reports 37% of residents have received at least one dose and 30% are fully vaccinated. Georgia continues to rank near the bottom of all states in both categories.
According to the CDC, 159 million Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 125 million have been fully vaccinated.
Local, state cases
Public Safety/Emergency Management Agency Director Ted Wynn said Bulloch had no new cases on Friday and three on Thursday.
The county now has a total of 5,287 confirmed cases since the pandemic began in March 2020. Overall, the COVID cases have resulted in 63 confirmed deaths and 222 local residents being hospitalized since the pandemic began in March.
East Georgia Regional Medical Center reported treating two COVID-19 patients, with two on ventilators Wednesday.
Across the state, there were 668 new cases on Friday and 859 on Thursday. The state's total number of confirmed cases is now up to 889,417.
The state reported 20 deaths on Friday and 17 on Thursday. Georgia’s death toll now stands at 17,785 since March 2020.
In the past week, the U.S. has averaged 31,200 new COVID-19 cases – the lowest number since last June and less than half what the average was a month ago, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Also, the country averaged 614 daily COVID deaths in the past week – less than a third of the 1,988-per-day average from three months ago, according to Johns Hopkins data.
According to statistics from the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, as of Wednesday afternoon, 587,493 Americans had died from coronavirus.
Also, Johns Hopkins reported the U.S. has had 33.008,319 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic. Confirmed infections have fallen to about 27,000 per day on average, their lowest mark since last May.
The Bulloch County Schools system had three new cases last week and one new case 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 four total cases reported May 9-168 — three self-reported and one university-confirmed case. GS reported six total cases for the week of May 3-9.
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 the week since April 18. Ogeechee Tech has had a total of 73 cases across its campuses since Aug. 17.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.