Health experts talk COVID spread as new variant hits Augusta

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 11:15 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Experts are hopeful we’ve hit a plateau and the cases could start to drop in the next couple of weeks. But we are also seeing the first confirmed cases of the mu variant in Augusta.

South Carolina hit a grim milestone today the highest death toll for any day in the pandemic. 138 people lost their lives with 166 in Georgia. But death rates usually peak after case counts and hospitalizations so as grim as that is, could things be about to get better?

“Thankfully, daily case numbers have seen a recent decline. I wouldn’t say that we’ve rounded a corner just yet. Cases can certainly fluctuate at any time, and we may experience a surge again,” said Dr. Jane Kelly, DHEC Assistant State Epidemiologist.

Doctors were initially worried about a spike in cases after Labor Day so far that is not the case. But Dr. MacArthur says there is still a lot of community spread out there and there are two ways to come out of this.

“One is to get infected naturally and the other is to get the vaccine,” he said.

So far about 14 percent of Georgia’s population have natural antibodies based on confirmed COVID tests since testing was available if you add in the estimates for those cases that went undetected.

“Now after the surge we’re already up at 20 percent so you add to that some percentage in Georgia only about 45 percent of folks are fully vaccinated. You add the two together and we have across the U.S. a reasonable chance of an effect depriving the virus of targets,” he said.

So basically we are getting closer to herd immunity against the delta variant because so many people have been infected combined with vaccinations.

“When people don’t get vaccinated they take the chance to be the last target for the virus,” he said.

Doctors say they still need to look at the number of hospitalizations over the next few days to determine whether we’ve peaked. But as long as there are available hosts the virus has the chance to mutate and repeat similar surges with new variants.

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