Coronavirus update 2.0 Athens

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

From Feb. 25-Mar. 3, ACC reported 226 new confirmed cases, compared to 181 from Feb. 18-24, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. The county’s seven-day average positivity rate decreased to 5.7% on Mar. 3 compared to 7.8% on Feb. 24. The World Health Organization and Johns Hopkins University recommend that communities try to maintain a positivity rate of 5% or lower.

From Feb. 25-Mar. 3, ACC reported three confirmed COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total to 121 since the start of the pandemic.

According to the DPH, the ACC seven-day daily case average has increased from 25.9 for the week of Feb. 18-24 to 32.3 for the week of Feb. 25-Mar. 3.

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 Mar. 3, there were 69 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, compared to the 97 on Feb. 24.

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

Georgia reported 21,374 confirmed COVID-19 cases for the week of Feb. 25-Mar. 3, down from 21,607 last week. According to the DPH, the seven-day daily case average decreased to 3,053.4 on Feb. 25-Mar. 3 compared to 3,086.7 the week before. The number of confirmed deaths also decreased — Georgia recorded 479 new confirmed COVID-19 deaths from Feb. 25-Mar. 3 compared to the 639 deaths on Feb. 18-24.

According to the Geospatial Information Office, the number of current COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state slightly decreased from about 2,165 on Feb. 24 to 1,840 on Mar. 3.

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 137 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 2, compared to 119 cases found on Feb. 24. Additionally, 1 case of the B.1.351 mutation, which was first discovered in South Africa, has been found in the state this week.

According to the DPH, Georgia has administered 2,154,840 vaccines cumulatively. Of these, about 1,321,331 have been of dose 1 and 833,509 have been dose 2. According to 2019 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, Georgia has a total population of about 10,617,423.

Additionally, about 1,607,200 Moderna vaccinations and 1,225,965 Pfizer vaccinations have been shipped to Georgia along with 83,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccinations allocated. 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 76% of all vaccinations allocated to Georgia have been administered down from the 81% last week.

ACC has administered 34,720 vaccinations cumulatively, and of those, 20,450 are the first dose and 14,270 are the second dose. From Feb. 25-Mar. 2, ACC administered 3,757 vaccinations compared to 2,899 last week. According to 2019 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, Athens has a total population of about 127,000.

On Thursday afternoon, Gov. Brian Kemp gave an update on the delivery of vaccines in Georgia and announced the widened eligibility. Teachers and K-12 school employees, including private school, preschool and daycare employees, will be eligible to receive the vaccine, as well as people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their caregivers. Parents of children with “complex medical conditions” will also be eligible.

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 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.

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