Local health experts not predicting a COVID surge this holiday season

Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 11:18 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Cases of COVID-19 are dropping significantly across the CSRA.

As you can tell in this chart from the Georgia Department of Public Health, there were more than 9,700 cases reported at the end of August in Georgia in one of the highest peaks of the pandemic.

Now there are more than 680 cases reported Wednesday.

DPH chart August
DPH chart August(WRDW)

And the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control shows cases dropping, as well, with just under 300 cases reported Wednesday. Back in September, the state was reporting the highest rate of new cases per 100,000 people with more than 5,200 new cases reported on Sept. 2.

And as cases drop, we’re hearing from health officials about what they are predicting for the holiday season. Last year, cases spiked here at home during the holiday season.

So what do experts say we should expect this year?

A lot can change in two months.

Around the beginning of September, there were more than 6,000 Georgians hospitalized across the state and now that number is down below 1,200.

With more and more people getting vaccinated, doctors say we are moving into a new phase in the fight against COVID-19.

“Big big drop, and it’s consistent and continues,” said Dr. Rodger MacArthur, professor of medicine at Augusta University.

Doctors say we should not expect a spike or surge this holiday season.

“Well, they certainly spiked last year, and I think that’s what has many health officials concerned — not worried, but concerned. But I don’t that is going to happen. Cases are dropping and we have more and more individuals getting vaccinated,” he said.

Doctors say we have people getting vaccinated and those with recent natural immunity from the delta spike to thank.

“So the CDC estimates now across the U.S. and Georgia over 30 percent of the unvaccinated have probably had a natural exposure. So you add that number to the 50-55 percent with the vaccine and the numbers suggest the virus is running out of targets, so I think we are going to see cases go down,” he said.

MacArthur believes we are at a turning point in the fight against COVID-19.

“Moving away from the pandemic phase and more of the endemic phase, which means there will be these little brush fires, flare-ups for in particular counties in Georgia,” he said.

MacArthur says the biggest concern folks have right now is whether it is safe to travel.

“Is it safe to get on a plane? And it is. But what about going through a crowded airport? Should they still wear masks? And of course in airports, you must wear a mask,” he said.

MacArthur adds that not only are COVID cases going down but hospitalizations are declining also.

“The serious cases of COVID-19 that require hospitalization are going way down, and that’s really good news,” he said.

Vaccination opportunities

GET $100 INCENTIVE: Vax Up Augusta is still offering a $100 incentive per shot and there’s a clinic Thursday at the Warren Road Community Center from 4-6 p.m. Then on Saturday, there will be one at the Robert Howard Community Center at Diamond Lakes from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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