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.
COVID-19 cases continued to show a decrease at the University of Georgia from last week, according to the university’s reporting system. UGA reported 77 new cases over the week of Sept. 13-19, a decrease from the 168 cases during the week of Sept. 6-12. The surveillance testing positivity rate was about 0.67% for this week. The World Health Organization recommends communities maintain a positivity rate below 5%.
23.38% of the positive tests — 18 — were conducted at the University Health Center. There were 8 positive tests through surveillance testing, and 41 tests 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, the actual number of COVID-19 cases may be higher than 77.
On Monday, Pfizer announced that its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective in children aged five to 11 years old and that it would seek U.S. approval for this age group shortly – a critical step toward starting immunizations for children.
On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration approved the booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for individuals 65 and older, all individuals who are immunocompromised and anyone who is often exposed to the virus.
Georgia’s hospitals have about 6% of their intensive care unit beds left for sick patients. Some medical institutions are turning people away due to a lack of space. From Sept. 5-11, about 98.1% 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 the second-highest in contracting the virus out of all age groups. The highest rate is in those aged 30-59.
Data breakdown: University of Georgia
The university conducted 1,196 surveillance tests during the week of Sept 13-17, a decrease compared to the 1,422 tests last week. With fewer tests occurring, fewer cases are able to be detected.
Of the total positive cases this week, 26 of them belonged to employees and 51 belonged to students.
For the week of Sept. 13-19, the UHC administered 333 vaccines, the same amount as last week. Cumulatively, the UHC has administered 26,109 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.
UGA football is has been completely back to normal for home football games this fall, with a capacity crowd of 92,746 at Sanford Stadium. This year, there are no masks or social-distancing regulations. Additionally, UGA does not require proof of vaccination to enter the grounds. Tailgating is also permitted.
Last week, UGA students, faculty and staff gathered to protest the University System of Georgia’s lack of mask and vaccine mandates at their 26 colleges and universities.
Data breakdown: Athens-Clarke County
Last week, Athens-Clarke County saw a decrease of new confirmed COVID-19 cases compared to the week before.
From Sept. 17-22, the county reported 310 new confirmed cases, compared to 342 from Sept. 11-16, according to the Georgia DPH. The county’s seven-day average positivity rate was 11.6%.
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 last week. On Sept. 22, there were 215 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, compared to 262 on Sept. 15.
According to the Georgia DPH, about 43% of the county is fully vaccinated. This percentage is below what is needed to achieve herd immunity, when enough people are vaccinated to stop or severely slow transmission of the virus.
Data breakdown: Georgia
Statewide, the weekly rate of new confirmed COVID-19 cases has decreased.
Georgia reported 30,098 confirmed COVID-19 cases between Sept. 17-22, a decrease of about 6,000 from the 36,006 cases between Sept. 11-16. The state’s seven-day average positivity rate decreased to 12.6% on Sept. 22.
The number of confirmed deaths in the state remained about the same — Georgia recorded 566 confirmed COVID-19 deaths between Sept. 17-22 compared to the 564 between Sept. 11-16.
According to the DPH, about 4.8 million Georgians have been fully vaccinated, or about 46% of the state. In comparison, the U.S. has a current full vaccination rate of 54%. Approximately 5.5 million Georgians, or 54% of the state, have received at least one dose of the vaccine. According to 2019 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, Georgia has a total population of about 10.6 million.
According to the CDC, fully vaccinated individuals 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 high, along with every other county in Georgia other than Irwin County, which has “substantial” transmission. The CDC has also released guidelines advising vaccinated individuals to still try their best to follow social distancing, wear masks and frequently wash hands.