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With holidays here, new local COVID cases on the rise
Home test kits now readily available
Boxes of BinaxNow home COVID-19 tests made by Abbott and QuickVue home tests made by Quidel are shown for sale Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, at a CVS store in Lakewood, Wash., south of Seattle. After weeks of shortages, retailers like CVS say they now have ample
Boxes of BinaxNow home COVID-19 tests made by Abbott and QuickVue home tests made by Quidel are shown for sale Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, at a CVS store in Lakewood, Wash., south of Seattle. After weeks of shortages, retailers like CVS say they now have ample supplies of rapid COVID-19 test kits, but experts are bracing to see whether it will be enough as Americans gather for Thanksgiving and new outbreaks spark across the Northern and Western states. - photo by Associated Press

With the Thanksgiving holidays here, new cases of COVID-19 are increasing across the nation, Georgia and Bulloch County recorded its most new weekly cases since the end of September.

According to the latest report from the Georgia Department of Public Health, 29 new confirmed cases of COVID were reported in Bulloch during the past seven days. It was the most local cases in one week since 56 were reported for Sept. 24–30.

According to the CDC, 24 states, including Georgia, have seen more than a 50% rise in cases in the past two weeks and 22 states have seen a moderate increase, while four states are experiencing a decline in cases.

New cases are now averaging more than 90,000 per day across the U.S. Deaths are averaging about 1,100 per day, which is down about 10% in the past two weeks.

But with the holiday season approaching and cold weather driving more people to meet indoors, public health officials are hoping avoid another COVID wave this winter. Last Christmas preceded the nation’s worst spike with cases peaking at more than 250,000 per day on Jan. 11. Deaths from the virus also hit a pandemic high of roughly 3,400 per day in early 2021.

Health officials say the No. 1 priority for the U.S., and the world, still is to get more unvaccinated people their first doses. All three COVID-19 vaccines used in the U.S. continue to offer strong protection against severe illness, including hospitalization and death, without a booster.

Vaccinations began in the U.S. last December, about a year after the coronavirus first emerged. More than 195 million Americans are now fully vaccinated, defined as having received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the single-dose J&J. More than 32 million already have received a booster, a large proportion — 17 million — people 65 or older. 

Anyone age 18 and up is eligible for a booster shot.

 

COVID home tests

One method millions of Americans are using much more is COVID home tests. Many are looking to home tests for an extra layer of protection ahead of this year's holidays.

After weeks of shortages, chains like CVS and Walgreens now say they have ample supplies and recently lifted limits on how many can be purchased at one time. The shift comes after test makers ramped up production, spurred by more than $3 billion in new purchasing contracts and assistance from the government. Home tests are typically more than $10 each and take about 15 minutes.

The U.S. is on pace to have about 200 million home tests per month by December, quadrupling the number from this summer. Still, spot shortages continue, particularly in cities and suburban communities with higher rates of testing.

Countries such as Britain distribute billions of tests for free and recommend testing twice a week. If the U.S. took that approach for everyone 12 and older, it would need 2.3 billion tests per month, researchers with the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation noted in a recent report. That’s more than seven times the 300 million monthly tests officials are hoping the country will have by February.

 

Local numbers

For the second week in a row, East Georgia Regional Medical Center reported on Monday that no patients being treated for the virus needed a ventilator.

Ted Wynn, director of the Bulloch Public Safety/Emergency Management Agency, reported three COVID patients were hospitalized at East Georgia, but no one was on a ventilator.

The Georgia Department of Public Health said there four probable deaths in the past week due to COVID in Bulloch County.  The county total now stands at 98 confirmed and 112 probable deaths for a total of 210. There have been 86 deaths due to COVID, 40% of the total, in the past 15 weeks — 35 confirmed and 51 probable.

Bulloch County saw 29 confirmed cases since last Monday, pushing the total to 7,959.

 

Georgia Southern

For the second week in a row, eight new cases were reported at Georgia Southern University for the past week. Confirmed and self-reported cases at Georgia Southern have fallen from 434 across its three campuses the week of Aug. 16–22, to eight for the most recent week — Nov. 15–21.

 

Bulloch County Schools

Similar to Georgia Southern, reported cases at Bulloch County schools have dropped from 474 for the week of Aug. 15–21 to six for Nov. 14–20.

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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