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 increased at the University of Georgia compared to last week, according to the university’s reporting system. UGA reported 29 new cases over the week of Nov. 8-14 compared to the 23 last week. The surveillance testing positivity rate increased this week to 1.3%.

According to The Hill, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said on Sunday that as the winter season approaches, an increase in COVID-19 infections is expected. He urged people to get vaccinated.

Due to fewer people wearing masks, respiratory illnesses such as influenza and respiratory syncytial virus have been spreading across the nation.

Following the approval of the COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11, Clarke County schools are sponsoring another round of immunization campaigns.

The initial doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be administered at primary schools from until Dec. 2, with the second round of vaccinations being delivered at a later date.

The deadline for covered University of Georgia employees to be vaccinated has been extended to Jan. 4, 2022, from the previous deadline of Dec. 8, 2021, according to an ArchNews email sent on Thursday. The new deadline was announced by the White House on Thursday.

This extension will give UGA's covered contractor employees additional time to get vaccinated. Some covered contractor employees have been alerted, according to the ArchNews email, while others are still being identified and notified.

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

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.

On Sept. 20, The Red & Black launched a survey for students, faculty, and staff at UGA that gathered data on vaccination status and thoughts on vaccination and mask policies on campus. The results showed a high vaccination rate among respondents and mixed feelings about campus COVID-19 policies.

Georgia’s hospitals have about 19% of their intensive care unit beds left for sick patients. From Nov. 7-13, nearly all of COVID-19 cases in the southeastern U.S. were delta variant cases, according to the CDC.

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

Data breakdown: University of Georgia

The university conducted 405 surveillance tests during the week of Nov. 7, the lowest of tests conducted this semester. With fewer tests occurring, fewer cases can be detected.

Of the total positive cases this week, seven of them belonged to employees and 22 belonged to students.

There were seven positive tests at the University Health Center. There were four positive tests through UGA surveillance testing, two positive tests from UGA community members reporting from testing sites in Athens, and 16 positive tests from UGA community members reporting from other testing sites.

Students that test positive for COVID-19 off-campus are required to report it through DawgCheck, UGA’s monitoring tool. Because students may have tested positive off-campus and not reported it, the actual number of COVID-19 cases in the UGA community may be higher.

For the week of Nov. 8-14, the UHC administered 537 vaccines, a significant decrease from the 824 administered last week. Cumulatively, the UHC has administered 30,203 vaccines.

Students and faculty may book a vaccine appointment through 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 Nov. 12-17, the county reported 60 new confirmed cases, compared to 50 from Nov. 6-11, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. The county’s seven-day average positivity rate was 4%. The World Health Organization recommends communities maintain a positivity rate below 5%.

This week, ACC reported two 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 slightly last week. On Nov. 17, there were 35 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, compared to 41 on Nov. 10.

According to the Georgia DPH, about 45% of the county is fully vaccinated.

Data breakdown: Georgia

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

According to the DPH, Georgia reported 6,127 confirmed COVID-19 cases between Nov. 12-17. This is an increase of about 800 from the 5,303 cases between Nov. 6-11. The state’s seven-day average positivity rate on Nov. 17 decreased to 3.6%, according to current data.

The number of confirmed deaths in the state decreased. Georgia recorded 170 confirmed COVID-19 deaths between Nov. 12-17, compared to the 218 between Nov. 6-11.

According to the DPH, almost 5.3 million Georgians have been fully vaccinated, or about 51% of the state. In comparison, the U.S. has a current full vaccination rate of 58%. Approximately 6 million Georgians, or 57% 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 in areas 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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