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Georgia, South Carolina see most COVID cases in months

Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 9:03 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 30, 2021 at 1:00 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. - The latest statistics show Georgia’s COVID-19 cases have soared in the past week and South Carolina saw the most cases in one day since February as the super-contagious delta variant sweeps the region.

State health officials reported that Georgia’s COVID-19 cases have jumped 204 percent in 14 days. On Thursday, new cases in the Peach State totaled 4,612 – the highest daily number since mid-February, according to the state Department of Public Health.

Hospitalizations in Georgia have increased by about 50 percent in the past 14 days, and deaths have increased by about 18 percent in the same period. Vaccination has stalled statewide and only 40% of Georgians are fully vaccinated, the health agency said.

According to data from Becker’s Hospital Review, the Peach State ranks 44th in the country for percentage of fully vaccinated people.

Georgia health officials on Friday urged people to get vaccinated against COVID.

“Unfortunately, we can expect COVID numbers to keep growing. People who are unvaccinated or skip their second dose of vaccine are targets for infection,” said Dr. Kathleen E. Toomey, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health. “Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and the delta variant. High vaccination coverage will reduce spread of the virus in your community and elsewhere - and help prevent new variants from emerging.”

South Carolina health officials echoed those thoughts.

“This is really the time to double down our efforts, and if people are on the fence about getting vaccinated or just wanted to wait and think about it a little bit longer, it’s the time for action now,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s director of public health.

DHEC reported a total of 2,203 new cases of COVID-19 Friday, the highest single-day total since mid-February. Those numbers represented the latest data from test results received on Wednesday.

Both Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster have vowed not to shut down their state or impose a statewide mask mandate.

In the CSRA, COVID-19 cases continue to increase at all of our major local hospitals.

All saw single digit increases Thursday in COVID patients compared to the day before.

Among those hospitals, University reported 36 COVID inpatients, the most of any local hospital right now. It’s also a sharp increase over this month. Three weeks ago, University Hospital had just three COVID inpatients.

As we near the start of the school year — which will include a mask mandate in Richmond County — here’s a look at some stats on COVID cases in school-age kids.

  • Columbia County has had 46 cases since September, and almost half of them were in the past two weeks.
  • In Richmond County, there have been 34 cases in the past two weeks, which is more than half the total cases since September.

Finger-pointing erupts amid spike in cases

Kemp is seeking to blame President Joe Biden for Georgia’s poor vaccination rate as COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations continue sprinting upward.

The Republican governor blames the Democratic president for not doing enough to move vaccines to permanent authorization from their current emergency use standard.

Kemp is calling on people to get vaccinated against the disease “if you’re comfortable.”

He says he’ll seek other solutions only if Georgia hospitals begin to get overwhelmed.

Georgia ranks in the bottom 10 states for vaccination rates.

The state recorded more than 4,800 positive tests for COVID-19 on Thursday, the worst number since Feb. 5. The daily case count has more than doubled in a week.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, meanwhile, is at odds with Kemp over her decision to reinstate a mask mandate, which Kemp has been outspoken against at the state and local level.

Kemp lambasted Bottoms’ decision, saying police officers need to be focusing on curbing Atlanta’s crime rate instead of enforcing a mask mandate.

Bottoms fired back that Kemp needs to be focusing on containing COVID-19 getting more people vaccinated.

Also in the news ...

  • New data from Pfizer says the efficacy of its COVID-19 vaccine declined to 84 percent after six months. The study is ongoing and looks at more than 44,000 people who received the vaccine or placebo. The study showed that the vaccine is most effective at 96 percent within two months of the second dose. That will decline gradually about 6 percent every two months. But the vaccine is still effective against severe COVID cases, including hospitalizations, for at least six months.

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