Coronavirus update 2.0 Athens

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

From March 4-10, ACC reported 133 new confirmed cases, compared to 222 from Feb. 25-March 3, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. The county’s seven-day average positivity rate decreased to 4.1% on March 10 compared to 5.7% on March 3. The World Health Organization and Johns Hopkins University recommend that communities try to maintain a positivity rate of 5% or lower. 

From March 4-10, ACC reported four confirmed COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total to 126 since the start of the pandemic. 

According to the DPH, the ACC seven-day daily case average has decreased from 31.7 for the week of Feb. 25-March 3 to 19 for the week of March 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 March 10, there were 57 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, compared to the 69 on March 3.

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

Georgia reported 14,774 confirmed COVID-19 cases for the week of March 4-10, down from 21,137 last week. According to the DPH, the seven-day daily case average decreased to 2,110.6 on March 4-10 compared to 3,019.6 the week before. The number of confirmed deaths also decreased — Georgia recorded 364 new confirmed COVID-19 deaths from March 4-10 compared to the 475 deaths on Feb. 25-March 3.

According to the Geospatial Information Office, the number of current COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state slightly decreased from about 1,840 on March 3 to 1,523 on March 10. 

In addition, comparing the week of Feb. 18 to the week of Feb. 25 may be difficult as new COVID-19 mutations are being found. About 171 cases of the B.1.1.7. COVID-19 variant, which was first identified in the United Kingdom, have been found in the state as of March 9, compared to 137 cases found on Feb. 24. Additionally, 3 cases of the B.1.351 mutation, which was first discovered in South Africa, have been found in the state. 

According to the DPH, Georgia has administered 2,478,115 vaccines cumulatively. Of these, about 1,506,257 have been of dose 1 and 971,858 have been dose 2. According to 2019 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, Georgia has a total population of about 10,617,423.

About 1,797,200 Moderna vaccinations and 1,456,455 Pfizer vaccinations have been shipped to Georgia along with 83,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccinations. Both the vaccination shipment and administration have increased from last week. Additionally, more people are getting vaccinated than people contracting the virus themselves. 

In total, about 74% of all vaccinations shipped to Georgia have been administered, down from the 76% last week.

ACC has administered 39,455 vaccinations cumulatively, and of those, 23,464 are the first dose and 15,991 are the second dose. From March 4-10, ACC administered 3,691 vaccinations compared to 3,757 last week. According to 2019 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, Athens has a total population of about 127,000.

On Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Brian Kemp gave an update on the delivery of vaccines in Georgia and announced the widened eligibility. Georgians 55 and older, as well as Georgians over the age of 16 with severe health problems, will be able to receive their vaccines starting March 15. 

The governor's office has given the following health conditions to be eligible for vaccination: asthma, cancer, cerebrovascular illness, progressive kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, hypertension, cardiac disorders, immunocompromised state, liver disorder, neurologic conditions (Dementia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson's), overweight and obesity (BMI greater than 25), pulmonary fibrosis, sickle cell anemia and thalassemia.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the 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 potentially infectious particles from spreading to others, according to a study done by the CDC.