Bulloch County providers received 2,300 more doses of COVID-19 vaccine since Monday, with almost all reserved as second vaccine shots or for those who already have set appointments for their first dose.
Earlier this week, public health departments and other providers across Georgia “paused” setting new vaccine appointments due to uncertainty of an adequate vaccine supply.
“At this time, we are not scheduling additional first dose COVID-19 vaccine appointments anywhere in the Southeast Health District,” said Katie Hadden, public information officer for the 16-county Southeast Health District, which includes Bulloch. “We want to ensure we have adequate vaccine supply for those who are in need of their second vaccine dose and those who already have appointments for their first dose.”
About one million Georgians have received COVID-19 vaccines so far, including more than 500,000 people ages 65 and older who have received their first of two doses. While Gov. Brian Kemp called those numbers “encouraging milestones” amid the state’s slow vaccine rollout, demand for vaccines is still far outstripping supply with only 154,000 doses coming each week from the federal government and more than two million Georgians currently eligible for shots.
“Georgia’s vaccine supply continues to not meet the demand that we have out in the community," Kemp said. “Our demand is drastically outpacing the supply that we’re seeing in our state.”
According to the Georgia Department of Health, about 985,000 total vaccines have been administered to approximately 800,000 individuals, or a little more than 7% of the state’s population. The total number of shots given includes about 130,000 people who have received their second dose, which gives people the highest protection against contracting COVID-19.
The Associated Press reported that starting next week, 1 million doses will be distributed to some 6,500 pharmacies across the country. The Biden administration is also boosting by 500,000 the weekly allocation of vaccines sent directly to states for the coming weeks, up to 10.5 million.
Major chains participating in the vaccine rollout that are located in Bulloch County include CVS, Walgreens and Walmart. CVS said it will receive 250,000 doses initially, to be distributed to pharmacies in 11 states.
Bulloch County vaccines
Since Monday, approved vaccine providers in Bulloch County received 2,300 additional doses, including 600 more for the Health Department and 300 more for Statesboro Pediatrics/Family Healthcare Center and Forest Heights Pharmacy. Receiving 200 more vaccines were East Georgia Regional Medical Center, McCook’s Pharmacy, Bulloch Wellness Center, The Prescription Shop and Total Health Bulloch.
So far, the local providers have requested 32,300 vaccine doses, and they have been allocated 10,200 by the state.
Hadden said officials with the Southeast Health District don’t have a timetable for when they will begin accepting new appointments again.
“Our scheduling process being active or paused may change quickly as we are dependent upon the vaccine supply allocation from the state which varies from week-to-week,” she said. “At this time, we do not have an anticipated date for reactivating the scheduling process. We appreciate the patience of those in our communities in this process.”
The Capitol Beat News Service reported that more cases of a highly contagious COVID-19 variant originating from Europe have been identified in Georgia, leading public-health officials to reason the strain is likely spreading fast.
Twenty-three cases of the COVID-19 variant have been reported as of Wednesday, up from 19 cases confirmed earlier this week, according to Georgia Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey.
The quick-moving variant is “probably widespread” throughout Georgia since test results lag behind by a week, Toomey said.
Georgia is among 33 states reporting cases of the variant so far. It has infected Georgians from ages 15 to 61, DPH said in a news release.
Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna have stressed that their COVID-19 vaccines “appear to work” against the variant, according to DPH.
Bulloch County, state cases
Bulloch County Public Safety/Emergency Management Agency Director Ted Wynn said Bulloch reported 51 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday and 19 on Tuesday. Bulloch now has recorded 4,672 total COVID cases, which have resulted in 46 deaths and 183 local residents being hospitalized since the pandemic began in March.
Also, the Georgia DPH is reporting 32 non-confirmed deaths that represent Bulloch citizens who received a positive antigen/rapid test for COVID-19, developed COVID-19 symptoms and subsequently died.
Georgia recorded 3,875 cases on Wednesday and 2,992 on Tuesday. The state's total number of confirmed cases is now up to 759,228.
The state reported 136 deaths on Wednesday and 162 on Monday. The state death toll now stands at 12,907 since March.
Wynn said East Georgia Regional Medical Center staff on Wednesday were caring for 25 COVID patients, with nine patients on ventilators.
COVID cases that require hospitalization continue to see a strong decline in Georgia. After setting a single-day high Jan. 11 with 6,108 state residents hospitalized, that number dropped to 4,335 hospitalized on Tuesday. It marked the 14th consecutive day of a decline in hospitalizations.
Across the United States, cases that require hospitalization have seen a steady decline, as well, since hitting a peak on Jan. 6 of 132,474 Americans in the hospital with COVID. On Tuesday, hospitalizations had dropped to 92,880. It marked the 21st consecutive day of a decline in hospitalizations.
National case numbers
According to statistics from the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, as of Monday afternoon, 449,485 Americans had died from coronavirus. Also, Johns Hopkins reported the U.S. has had 26,517,212 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic.
The Bulloch County Schools system has reported 17 new cases this week, for a total of 499 COVID cases since classes started on Aug. 17. The school system has recorded 256 confirmed cases since Jan. 3.
Georgia Southern University saw a slight increase in new cases this past week, after declining each of the previous two weeks.
Georgia Southern had 76 total cases reported Jan. 25–31 — 60 self-reported and 16 university confirmed cases. GS reported 70 total cases for the week of Jan. 18-24.
East Georgia State College reported three new cases on its three campuses since Sunday. The college has had a total of 150 cases across its three campuses since Aug. 17.
Ogeechee Technical College reported four new cases for the week of Jan. 25–31. The new cases include three students on the Statesboro campus. Ogeechee Tech has had a total of 61 cases across its campuses since Aug. 17.
COVID-19 testing operated by Mako Medical is available at Luetta Moore Park, 585 Martin Luther King Drive.
Testing schedule: Monday, Wednesday — 8 a.m.–3 p.m.; Tuesday, Thursday — 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; Friday — 9 a.m.–4 p.m.; second and fourth Saturday of each month — 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
To register, visit https://mako.exchange/splash/GAmakotesting/.