Calhoun Times

COVID rises locally, statewide

- By Cat Webb CWebb@CalhounTim­es.com

New cases of COVID-19 and COVID-related deaths are on the increase in Gordon County and statewide.

This past week, Gordon County saw 53 new cases and three deaths. Across Georgia, 7,727 new cases and 149 deaths were reported.

Since Dec. 6, Georgia saw an increase of more than 1,000 new weekly cases and 30 new weekly deaths while Gordon County saw 12 more cases and three more deaths than the week prior.

As of Dec. 10, Gordon County Schools reported four cases in students and four cases in staff. Calhoun City Schools reported three cases in students and one case in staff.

Gordon County Schools’ numbers show a significan­t increase from the week prior while Calhoun City Schools saw a decrease.

New cases of the Omicron variant continue to crop up in Georgia, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. A new case of the variant was confirmed in an unvaccinat­ed metro Atlanta resident with no travel history on Dec. 9.

“The omicron variant has now been detected in patients in at least 21 U.S. states and in dozens of countries around the world,” said GDPH in a media statement. “Preliminar­y data show that Omicron may cause less severe illness but may spread more easily than the Delta variant. Scientists are still researchin­g how well the current COVID vaccines

or natural immunity hold up against Omicron, and caution that it is too early to make conclusion­s about Omicron because there is not enough data available.”

With rising case numbers and the discovery of the Omicron variant in numerous states, CDC has expanded booster recommenda­tions for the Pfizer shot.

“Today, CDC is strengthen­ing its booster recommenda­tions and encouragin­g everyone 16 and older to receive a booster shot,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle

Walensky. “Although we don’t have all the answers on the Omicron variant, initial data suggests that COVID-19 boosters help broaden and strengthen the protection against Omicron and other variants. We know that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and I strongly encourage adolescent­s ages 16 and 17 to get their booster if they are at least 6 months post their initial Pfizer vaccinatio­n series.”

With these new CDC recommenda­tions, GDPH is also expanding eligibilit­y for boosters to match federal guidelines.

“Most recent evidence indicates that vaccine effectiven­ess against Covid-19 is

waning after the second dose of the vaccine for all adults and for those in the 16- and 17-year-old age group,” said Dr. Gary Voccio, health director for the ten-county Georgia Department of Public Health Northwest Health District. “A booster will help provide continued protection against Covid-19 in this and older age groups.”

This ensures that everyone ages 16 and older are now eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot. Both the main series and the booster shots are safe and effective, and may be key to prolonged protection against COVID-19.

“Although we are still learning more about the

Omicron variant,” Voccio adds, “initial data suggests that Covid-19 boosters help broaden and strengthen the protection against Omicron and other variants.”

CDC data regarding community transmissi­on rates on a county-by-county basis shows that Gordon County is at a high level of community spread. For this reason, the CDC recommends that everyone in Gordon County should wear a mask in indoor public spaces and should ensure they are following any additional local guidelines.

To schedule a COVID-19 vaccine or booster appointmen­t, log on to dph.georgia.gov/covid-vaccine or

call 888-457-0186 for the Health Department Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line. The Gordon County Health Department, 310 N. River Street, Calhoun, is now offering flu shots on a walk-in basis.

Anyone experienci­ng COVID-19 symptoms, or those who have been in close contact with an individual with COVID-19, should be tested regardless of vaccinatio­n status. At DPH/Mako Medical

test sites, testing is free of charge.

To find a COVID-19 test site, log on to dph.georgia. gov/covidtesti­ng.

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