With Gov. Brian Kemp expected to rescind most coronavirus restrictions later this week, Bulloch County continues to see a decline in COVID-19 cases that began in February.
Bulloch County reported one new confirmed case of COVID-19 on Monday and 10 on Saturday and Sunday combined, with no new deaths. Public Safety/Emergency Management Agency Director Ted Wynn acknowledged the county has seen steep declines in incidences of COVID infection, but urged area residents to remain respectful of the virus.
“We just need to remain vigilant. Wear masks in public and get vaccines,” he said. “Let’s keep the numbers low and hopefully this truly will be behind us soon.”
Meanwhile, Kemp told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that his administration will outline plans to rescind remaining coronavirus restrictions as soon as Thursday.
Those include capacity limits, restrictions on large-scale gatherings and dozens of safety guidelines for restaurants, bars, entertainment venues and other venues, the newspaper reported.
The move is a “critical step” in moving the state back to a normalcy, Kemp said. He points to recent declines of new infections and rising numbers of Georgians getting vaccinated.
“Georgians know the right thing to do,” Kemp said. “They know the value in best practices, but they also can’t wait to return to their normal life. Loosening these restrictions is the next critical step in that process, and it signals an even bigger light at the end of the tunnel.”
Despite Kemp’s optimism, Georgia ranks near the bottom of all states and the District of Columbia in percentage of vaccine distribution. For comparison, Wisconsin ranks first with 2,808,953 vaccines administered out of 2,996,415 distributed to the state – a 93.74% vaccine rate. Georgia ranks 48th with 3,711,950 vaccines administered out of 5,385,975 distributed to the state – a 68.92% vaccine rate. Only Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama are worse.
Also, President Joe Biden and the head of the CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, warned Monday that too many Americans are declaring virus victory too quickly, appealing for mask requirements and other restrictions to be maintained or restored to stave off a “fourth surge” of COVID-19.
Cases of the virus across the United States are up about 10% over the past week from the previous week, to about 60,000 cases per day, with both hospitalizations and deaths ticking up as well, Walensky said.
Biden delivered a direct appeal to governors, state and local leaders to reinstate mask-wearing requirements if they have lifted them, and said he encouraged leaders to pause plans to further ease virus-related restrictions.
“Please, this is not politics, reinstate the mandate if you let it down," he said.
More than one in five adults and nearly 50% of senior American are fully vaccinated, according to data from the CDC. On Thursday, the U.S. set a new single-day record for shots in arms: more than 3.2 million.
Local/state COVID cases
Wynn said Bulloch now has a total of 5,152 confirmed cases since the pandemic began in March 2020. The COVID cases have resulted in 61 confirmed deaths and 210 local residents being hospitalized since the pandemic began in March.
Also, the state Department of Health has reported 47 non-confirmed deaths, which represent Bulloch citizens who received a positive antigen/ rapid test for COVID-19, developed COVID-19 symptoms and then died.
Across the state, there were 825 new cases reported on Monday, 1,084 on Saturday and 753 on Sunday. The state's total number of confirmed cases is now up to 85,413.
The state reported 36 deaths on Monday, 69 on Saturday and none on Sunday. Georgia’s death toll now stands at 16,523 since March 2020.
All residents of Bulloch County and the state of Georgia aged 16 and older are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination.
The state dashboard detailing the distribution of local vaccine is no longer being updated by the state. Also, the state is no longer providing a breakdown of how much local vaccine is being allocated to specific providers in Bulloch County.
Bulloch residents are urged to contact private providers such as East Georgia Regional Medical Center and local pharmacies directly to see if a vaccine appointment is available. Vaccines also are available at Walgreen’s, CVS and Walmart.
To schedule an appointment at the Bulloch Health Department, call (855) 473-4374. If an appointment is not available at the Altman St. office in Statesboro, they can schedule an appointment at any of the health departments in the area through the same appointment number
Wynn said East Georgia Regional Medical Center staff on Monday were caring for seven COVID patients, with three patients on ventilators.
The Bulloch County Schools system reported no new cases so far this week, and a total of 616 COVID cases since classes started on Aug. 17.
Georgia Southern had 27 total cases reported March 22-28 – 19 self-reported and eight university- confirmed cases. GS reported 18 total cases for the week of March 15-21.
Of the cases reported last week, 17 were on the Statesboro campus, nine on the Armstrong Savannah campus and one on the Liberty campus.
East Georgia State College reported one new case across its three campuses last week. The college has had a total of 157 cases across its three campuses since Aug. 17.
Ogeechee Technical College reported no new cases across its campuses for the week of March 15–21. Ogeechee Tech has had a total of 70 cases across its campuses since Aug. 17.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.