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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 by eight at the University of Georgia from last week, according to the university’s reporting system. UGA reported 27 new cases over the week of Oct. 18-24, a decrease from the 35 cases during the week of Oct. 11-17. The surveillance testing positivity rate was about 0.80%.

Eight of the positive tests — about 29.63% of UGA’s positive tests — were conducted at the University Health Center. There were five positive tests through UGA surveillance testing, three positive tests from UGA community members reported from testing sites in Athens and 11 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. 

Since Oct. 25, UGA faculty, staff, students, retirees and dependents 18 and up who have completed a complete vaccine series and meet the Georgia Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's eligibility requirements may schedule appointments at the University Health Center 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 University of Georgia 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 Tuesday.

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.

Executive Order 14042, signed on Sept. 9, said that most federal contractors, including employees at public universities, must adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 guidelines.

50% of Georgia’s residents are now fully vaccinated. 

Georgia’s hospitals have about 17% of their intensive care unit beds left for sick patients. From Oct. 17-23, about 99.3% 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 contracting the virus at the second-highest rate of all age groups. The highest rate is in those aged 30-59.

Data breakdown: University of Georgia

The university conducted 628 surveillance tests during the week of Oct. 18-22, similar to the 630 tests last week. With fewer tests occurring, fewer cases are able to be detected.

Of the total positive cases this week, 7 of them belonged to employees and 20 belonged to students.

For the week of Oct. 18-24, the UHC administered 406 vaccines, a decrease from the 422 administered last week. Cumulatively, the UHC has administered 28,261 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. 22-27, the county reported 58 new confirmed cases, compared to 72 from Oct. 16-21, according to the Georgia DPH. The county’s seven-day average positivity rate was 4.5%. The World Health Organization recommends communities maintain a positivity rate below 5%.

This week, ACC reported three 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 Oct. 27, there were 68 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, compared to 81 on Oct. 20.

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 decreased.

According to the DPH, Georgia reported 7,975 confirmed COVID-19 cases between Oct. 22-27.This is a decrease of about 460 from the 8,441 cases between Oct. 16-21. The state’s seven-day average positivity rate decreased to 4.9% on Oct. 27, according to current data.

The number of confirmed deaths in the state remained stagnant — Georgia recorded 366 confirmed COVID-19 deaths between Oct. 22-27 compared to the 372 between Oct. 16-21.

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 over their nose and mouth when in public, indoor settings.

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