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Still high, Bulloch COVID cases see small drop
Health officials say omicron wave has crested

The Georgia Department of Public Health said Bulloch County reported 862 new cases of COVID-19 in the past week and has added 1,753 cases in the past two weeks. And despite the continuing surge in COVID cases, the past week saw an actual decline in cases from the previous week for the first time since Dec. 13.

In fact, in the U.S., cases have crested and are dropping rapidly, following a pattern seen in Britain and South Africa, with researchers projecting a period of low spread in many countries by the end of March.

The U.S. recorded 337,000 new cases on Saturday, down from 1.2 million new cases on Jan. 18.

The places in the U.S. where omicron struck first are seeing the sharpest declines. New cases in the Northeast are nose-diving, while other states — Arizona, Texas, Oregon, Kansas and North Dakota among them — are still waiting for relief.

Though U.S. deaths — now at 2,100 each day — are still rising, new hospital admissions have started to fall, and national and world health officials expect a drop in deaths to follow.

Still, current projections show tens of thousands more Americans dying before the omicron wave is through. The U.S. death toll stands at close to 870,000.

Falling, too, are new U.S. hospital admissions of patients with confirmed COVID-19. They are averaging nearly 20,000 per day, down about 7% from the previous week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While East Georgia Regional Medical Center saw a slight rise in patients last week, the hospital is nowhere near the numbers of patients it saw last August and September during the height of the delta variant.

Ted Wynn, director of the Bulloch Public Safety/Emergency Management Agency, said EGRMC was treating 28 COVID-19 patients on Monday, with four on ventilators. That compares with 23 patients last week and two on ventilators. However, back in September the hospital was routinely treating upwards of 50 COVID patients, with a peak of 73.

The number of COVID-19 positive patients hospitalized statewide fell below 5,050 on Monday, down from a peak of about 5,400 last week. That decline can be seen most clearly at hospitals in Atlanta, Athens and Macon.

According to the Georgia Department of Health, case data shows the omicron outbreak has peaked in metro Atlanta, with cases down more than 50% in some counties like Douglas that had been hotbeds of reported infections in late December. But data also shows the outbreak may not have peaked yet in Dalton, Brunswick, Albany and some other areas.


Bulloch County Schools

Bulloch County Schools reported 403 new COVID cases for the week of January 16-21. It was the second highest number of cases for any one week since the schools system began reporting cases in August 2020. Only the 468 cases reported for the week of Aug. 15-21, 2021 were higher than last week.

Every school reported at least 11 cases and 12 of the county’s 15 public schools had at least 20 cases. Julia P. Bryant Elementary reported 50 new cases and Statesboro High had 59 – the most among all Bulloch schools.

In an email release from Hayley Greene, public relations director for Bulloch County Schools, it was announced that “in response to updated Department of Public Health guidance, Bulloch County Schools will discontinue its efforts to contact trace exposures to COVID-19 positive cases in its schools and offices.
“This will reduce the burden placed on our nurses and administrative staff so that they can redirect their time to tasks directly related to teaching and learning and routine health needs in our schools,” said Superintendent of Schools Charles Wilson.
In the release, Greene said “Employees and parents of students should still use the school district’s online ‘COVID-19 Absences tool’ or contact their school to report any of the following.”

“You have a confirmed-positive case of COVID-19.

You choose to quarantine for 5 to 10 days due to a known close contact with a positive case.

You have COVID-19 symptoms after close contact to a known COVID-positive case and will isolate for 5 to 10 days.”

Free weekly meals are available for pick up for children who are isolated or quarantined, the release said. And for the time a child is isolated or quarantined, students are provided distance learning by the school district.


Georgia Southern University

With 502 new cases reported across Georgia Southern’s three campuses for the week of Jan. 17-23 – like the Bulloch County Schools System – it was the second highest number of weekly cases recorded since the university began tracking cases in August 2020. Only the 508 cases reported for the week of Aug. 24-30, 2020 were higher than last week.

However, the total number of cases last week on the Statesboro campus, 406, was significantly less than the 487 seen in 2020.

In its weekly report, GS officials said: “Recognizing that COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots offer safe, effective protection, we continue to urge all students, faculty, staff and visitors to get vaccinated either on campus or with a local provider. Georgia Southern offers Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.” 

Also, the report said: “Everyone is encouraged to wear a mask or face covering while inside campus facilities.”


The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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