BLUE RIDGE, Ga – Georgia’s currently ninth in the nation for rising COVID-19 cases and Fannin’s verified 89 new cases as of August 10 over two weeks.
In the previous 14-day report the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) recorded 59 cases in Fannin County. On July 26, only 48 cases were documented over 14 days. If the trend continues, it’s likely August numbers will double from July.
Fannin Regional Hospital has seen a “significant increase” in COVID-19 cases.
“The number of tests that are coming back positive are now exceeding the number of positive tests from last winter,” EMA Director Robert Graham commented on the hospital’s case rates.
Additionally, Fannin Regional is finding more cases in younger individuals, but they appear to be milder.
Local area hospitals’ ICUs are full, and some patients are being kept in the ER for treatment. Statewide hospitals are reaching similar breaking points and transferring patients to other facilities.
Only 34 percent of Fannin County is fully vaccinated which is lower than neighboring counties.
“The sampling of tests statewide and its appearing that the majority of the cases, somewhere in the 80 percent range, they’re seeing the sampling is the Delta Variant,” Graham stated. “There’s also a Lambda Variant that’s starting to show up too. and they’re saying it’s even more contagious than the Delta Variant.”
The Delta Variant has proven to be more contagious than previous iterations of COVID-19. Some data on variant suggests more severe illness can result from infection than the original strain. According to the CDC, vaccinated individuals who experience a symptomatic breakthrough can transmit the virus to others. At this time, it’s unclear if an asymptomatic breakthrough can transmit it to others. Vaccinated people do appear to be infectious for a shorter amount of time.
Graham recommends people use common sense, follow the CDC guidelines, and when in stores or close contact with a group of people, wear a mask.
“They do say the vaccines are fairly effective against the variants, but they are seeing some breakthrough cases of people that actually get COVID that have had the vaccine. One group reported the vaccine is creating a better antibody than someone had actually had COVID,” Graham said.
Some breakthrough infections of COVID-19 are occurring among the vaccinated, but it’s a small portion. According to DPH, of the 4 million fully vaccinated, 0.12 percent have tested positive and 0.00058 percent have died.
Post One Johnny Scearce, who suffered from a lengthy battle with COVID-19 and related illness, confirmed that the vaccine has helped him.
“I would definitely recommend if somebody doesn’t have any other objections to it, definitely get the vaccine,” Graham commented.
Vaccine boosters are in the process, but no definitive word on the necessity of booster shots has come from the CDC, DPH, of NIH.
DPH is working on setting up a testing site closer to North Georgia again, most likely in Gilmer County.
“I think we all know somebody who has been affected by it,” Chairman Jamie Hensley added. “We know it’s a sickness, how bad it can be. We just have to work diligently.”
The courthouse is being regularly fogged to try and kill the virus. Also, all door handles and frequently touched surfaces are being sanitized throughout the day in all departments.
The recreation department will shut down the recreation center on Wednesdays to deep clean. It will open at 3 p.m.