Augusta is seeing low COVID rate, but it may not stay that way

Most of our local area’s are green, which means low spread.
Published: Jan. 2, 2023 at 6:50 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Over the last several years, COVID has played a major role in how we celebrate the holidays.

But this year is different as many visited with friends and family. Looking at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID spread map, most of our local areas are green, which means low spread.

Aiken is the only major county that’s higher, and it’s yellow for medium. But local doctors we spoke to on Monday say this map doesn’t tell the whole story.

We broke down how COVID, RSV and flu are still putting family members in the hospital.

Doctors are predicting COVID cases will continue to rise throughout January as they have over the past two weeks.

Health experts at Augusta University Health say they are seeing an increase of almost 100% in hospitalizations due to COVID.

Dr. Jose Vazquez, chief of infectious disease at AU Health, says, “We’re up to 20 some patients in the hospital with COVID, where for many months we were at maybe five.”

Vazquez says health experts expect an increase in flu rates, as well. He tells us the combination of the two has led to concerns about another illness.

“So the other thing that we have seen as a consequence of an increase in COVID, an increase in influenza, is an increase in bacterial pneumonia due to a bacteria called streptococcus,” Dr. Vazquez says.

He states vaccines are the only sure way to help stop the spread of these viruses, but the CDC reports that as of December, less than half of U.S. adults received a flu vaccine.

When it comes to COVID, Vazquez says it’s going to be around for a while, so, it’s a good idea to stay updated on your shots.

“So again, vaccines, vaccines, and vaccines after that, then we have to follow the guidelines that we use for all respiratory tract infections,” Vazquez says.