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The Red & Black is providing weekly updates on COVID-19, focusing on Athens and Georgia. (Sophia Haynes/Design Editor)

As the COVID-19 delta variant continues to spread across the nation, questions about booster shots, hospitalizations and vaccine hesitancy leave many frustrated. As part of The Red & Black’s health news coverage, we are publishing weekly reports on news relating to COVID-19 and its recent statistics. 

Major updates

COVID-19 cases decreased drastically at the University of Georgia from last week, dropping by 350 cases, according to the university’s reporting system. UGA reported 164 new cases over the week of Sept. 6-12, a decrease from the 514 cases during the week of Aug. 30-Sept. 5. The surveillance testing positivity rate was about 2.46% for this week. The World Health Organization recommends communities maintain a positivity rate below 5%.

25.61% of the positive tests — 42 — were conducted at the University Health Center. There were 35 positive tests through surveillance testing, and 87 tests reported from other testing sites.  

COVID-19 positive numbers are still being monitored at University System of Georgia's 26 public colleges and institutions. As was the case last fall and spring, several campuses saw a rise in positive COVID-19 cases as the fall semester began a few weeks ago. As the semester progressed, these increases were generally followed by reductions. 

Students that test positive for COVID-19 off-campus are required to report it to DawgCheck, UGA’s monitoring tool. Because students may have tested positive off-campus and not reported it as well as having a three-day weekend this week, the actual number of COVID-19 cases may be higher than 164. 

In the United States, including Georgia, the federal government has modified the method COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatments are distributed.The US Department of Health and Human Services announced the decision on Monday as a consequence of supply constraints and high demand for the treatments across the country, particularly owing to the fast spread of the delta variant.

The treatments will no longer be ordered directly by health care practitioners.

Based on utilization and the number of new COVID cases, the HHS will determine each state's weekly allotment of monoclonal antibody products. The Georgia Department of Public Health will choose which Georgia locations will get the product and how much each site would receive. To be eligible for further shipments, healthcare practitioners must keep track of the products they administer.

Georgia’s hospitals have about 4% of their intensive care unit beds left for sick patients. Some medical institutions are turning people away due to a lack of space. From Sept. 5-11, about 99.5% of COVID-19 cases in the southeastern U.S. were delta variant cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The majority of people who are hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

Georgia’s case data by age shows children aged 0-17 are the second-highest in contracting the virus out of all age groups. The highest rate is in those aged 30-59.

Data breakdown: University of Georgia

UGA football is now completely back to normal for home football games this fall, with a capacity crowd of 92,746 at Sanford Stadium. This year, there are no masks or social-distancing regulations. Additionally, UGA does not require proof of vaccination to enter the grounds. Tailgating is also permitted. 

The university conducted 1,422 surveillance tests during the week of Sept 6-10, a significant decrease compared to the 2,347 tests last week.  

For the week of Sept. 5-10, the UHC administered 333 vaccines. Cumulatively, the UHC has administered 25,771 vaccines.  

Students and faculty may book a vaccine appointment at the UHC Vaccine Portal or get vaccinated at any University System of Georgia school. Students may also get tested for COVID-19 at the UHC with walk-in appointments. 

Data breakdown: Athens-Clarke County

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

From Sept. 10-Sept. 15, the county reported 384 new confirmed cases, compared to 489 from Sept. 4-9, according to the Georgia DPH. The county’s seven-day average positivity rate was 13.9%.  

This week, ACC reported one confirmed COVID-19 death. 

According to the Georgia Geospatial Information Office, the number of current hospitalizations in Region E — which includes ACC and several surrounding counties — decreased last week. On Sept. 15, there were 264 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, compared to 302 on Sept. 8.

According to the Georgia DPH, about 43% of the county is fully vaccinated. This percentage is below what is needed to achieve herd immunity, when enough people are vaccinated to stop or severely slow transmission of the virus. 

Data breakdown: Georgia 

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

Georgia reported 38,979 confirmed COVID-19 cases between Sept. 10-15, a decrease of more than 4,000 from the 43,129 cases between Sept. 4-9. The state’s seven-day average positivity rate decreased to 16.2% on Sept. 15. 

The number of confirmed deaths in the state increased — Georgia recorded 519 confirmed COVID-19 deaths between Sept. 10-15 compared to the 415 between Sept. 4-9.

According to the DPH, about 4.75 million Georgians have been fully vaccinated, or about 46% of the state. In comparison, the U.S. has a current full vaccination rate of 53%. Approximately 5.5 million Georgians, or 53% of the state, have received at least one dose of the vaccine. According to 2019 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, Georgia has a total population of about 10.6 million. 

According to the CDC, fully vaccinated individuals should wear a mask indoors if in an area of substantial or high transmission. Currently, the CDC says Clarke County’s level of community transmission is high, along with every single county in Georgia. The CDC has also released guidelines advising vaccinated individuals to still try their best to follow social distancing, wear masks and frequently wash hands. 

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