Coronavirus update 2.0 Athens

Last week, Athens-Clarke County saw a significant decrease in the rate of new confirmed COVID-19 cases compared to the week before. 

From Feb. 4-10, ACC reported 292 new confirmed cases, compared to 404 from Jan. 28-Feb. 3. According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, the seven-day average positivity rate declined from 10.8% on Feb. 3 to 9.1% on Feb. 10.

Although this is a drop, it is still high. The World Health Organization and Johns Hopkins University recommend that communities try to maintain a positivity rate of 5% or lower. However, we are seeing a significant decrease in positivity rate throughout the few past weeks.

From Feb. 4-10, ACC reported eight confirmed COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total to 103 since the start of the pandemic. 

According to the DPH, the ACC seven-day daily case average has also significantly decreased from 58.3 for the week of Jan. 28-Feb. 3 to 41.7 for the week of Feb. 4-10.

According to the Georgia Geospatial Information Office, the number of current hospitalizations in Region E — which includes ACC and several surrounding counties — showed a decline last week. On Feb. 10, there were 158 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, compared to the 202 on Feb. 3.

Statewide, the weekly rate of new confirmed COVID-19 cases has also decreased slightly.

Georgia reported 21,696 confirmed COVID-19 cases for the week of Feb. 4-10, down from 27,662 last week. According to the DPH, the seven-day daily case average decreased dramatically to 3,099.4 during Feb. 4-10 compared to 3,935.7 the week before. The number for confirmed deaths also decreased — Georgia recorded 697 new confirmed COVID-19 deaths from Feb. 4-10 compared to the 782 deaths on Jan. 28-Feb. 3.

According to the Geospatial Information Office, the number of current COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state slightly decreased from about 4,021 on Feb. 3 to 3,322 on Feb. 10. 

In addition, comparing the week of Jan. 28 to the week of Feb. 4 may be difficult as new COVID-19 mutations are being found. About 37 new cases of the B.1.1.7. COVID-19 variant, which was first identified in the United Kingdom, have been found in the state. No other variants have been recognized in Georgia as of now. 

Georgia has received 761,475 Pfizer vaccines and 1,073,400 Moderna vaccines, according to the DPH. The state has administered about 1,301,647 vaccinations as of Feb. 10, compared to the 1,030,872 vaccinations last week. Both the vaccination shipment and administration has increased from last week. Additionally, more people are getting vaccinated than people contracting the virus themselves. 

ACC has received 41,575 vaccines in various clinics and hospitals out of the 115,775 its distributors requested. Vaccination receivals are falling drastically short in comparison to requests. According to 2019 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, Athens has a total population of about 127,000.

President Joe Biden has stated that the situation of COVID-19 will get worse before getting better, withstanding vaccine distribution as well. Recently, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, endorsed double masking amid the more contagious COVID-19 mutations found in the U.S, which have been found to be 30-70% more transmissible to others than the initial strain. Double-masking has shown to block over 92% of potential infectious particles from spreading to others, according to a study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Currently, ACC, UGA and the state of Georgia are all in the 1A phase of vaccination administration laid out by the CDC and DPH.