COVID-19 report image

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 by six at the University of Georgia from last week, according to the university’s reporting system. UGA reported 21 new cases over the week of Oct. 25-31, a decrease from the 27 cases during the week of Oct. 18-24. This has been the lowest number of cases documented by UGA since classes started this semester. The surveillance testing positivity rate was about 0.17%.

Three of the positive tests were conducted at the University Health Center. There was one positive test through UGA surveillance testing, four positive tests from UGA community members reported from testing sites in Athens and 13 positive tests from UGA community members reported from other testing sites.

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, the actual number of COVID-19 cases may be higher.

On Oct. 29, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for COVID-19 prevention in children aged 5 to 11 years old. The approval was based on the FDA's review of the data, which included participation from an independent advisory committee of experts who decided to make the vaccine available to children in this age range.

The Georgia Department of Public Health and health districts across the state will provide the Pfizer pediatric COVID-19 vaccine to children aged 5 to 11 years old, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Vaccination will commence after the DPH obtains clinical guidelines from the CDC, which is expected in the coming days.

Since Oct. 25, UGA faculty, staff, students, retirees and dependents 18 and up who have completed a complete vaccine series and meet the DPH and the CDC's eligibility requirements may schedule appointments at the UHC to receive a booster shot.

Eligible patients must have received two doses of Pfizer or Moderna more than 6 months ago or a single dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine more than 2 months ago.

Appointments may be scheduled here. Due to vaccination status being verified on-site, individuals should bring their original vaccine card to the appointment.

Certain UGA employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 8 in accordance with an executive order issued by President Joe Biden, according to an ArchNews email sent on Oct. 26.

Employees covered by this policy include those who work on or in connection with a federal contract, or who work in a covered contractor workplace.

Georgia’s hospitals have about 17% of their intensive care unit beds left for sick patients. From Oct. 24-20, about 99% of COVID-19 cases in the Southeastern U.S. were delta variant cases, according to the CDC.

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

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

Databreakdown: University of Georgia

The university conducted 575 surveillance tests during the week of Oct. 25, a decrease from the 628 tests during last week. With fewer tests occurring, fewer cases are able to be detected.

Of the total positive cases this week, six of them belonged to employees and 15 belonged to students.

For the week of Oct. 25-31, the UHC administered 581 vaccines, an increase from the 406 administered last week. Cumulatively, the UHC has administered 28,842 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

From Oct. 29-Nov. 3, the county reported 85 new confirmed cases, compared to 54 from Oct. 23-28, according to the Georgia DPH. The county’s seven-day average positivity rate was 6.3%. The World Health Organization recommends communities maintain a positivity rate below 5%.

This week, ACC reported zero confirmed COVID-19 deaths.

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 Nov. 3, there were 44 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, compared to 63 on Oct. 28.

According to the Georgia DPH, about 46% of the county is fully vaccinated.

Data breakdown: Georgia

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

According to the DPH, Georgia reported 6,144 confirmed COVID-19 cases between Oct. 29-Nov. 3. This is a decrease of about 1,700 from the 7,837 cases between Oct. 23-28. The state’s seven-day average positivity rate decreased to 4.6% on Nov. 3, according to current data.

The number of confirmed deaths in the state remained about stagnant — Georgia recorded 308 confirmed COVID-19 deaths between Oct. 29-Nov. 3 compared to the 316 between Oct. 23-28.

According to the DPH, about 5.2 million Georgians have been fully vaccinated, or about 50% of the state. In comparison, the U.S. has a current full vaccination rate of 57%. Approximately 5.8 million Georgians, or 56% of the state, have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

According to the CDC, even fully vaccinated people 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 substantial, along with many other counties in Georgia. The CDC has also released guidelines advising vaccinated individuals to still wear masks when in public, indoor settings.

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