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Chatham County’s COVID-19 Community Transmission Index is back in the red

Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 4:14 PM EDT
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CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - The Community Transmission Index (CTI), which is used to measure the number of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days per 100,000 residents, is back in the red in Chatham County.

The CTI in Chatham County is 111 on Thursday, July 15, according to the Coastal Health District. The CTI has doubled since the start of July.

Dr. Stephen Thacker, with Memorial Health, said some reasons for the state and local increase include the Delta variant in Georgia, the rollback of public health guidance, low vaccination rates and more. He says while a majority of those who are hospitalized are unvaccinated, but - as of this week - they are learning about some mild breakthrough cases of those who were vaccinated first.

“I do think we are starting to learn, what is the timing at which our vaccines that we received in December and January may be waning in their effectiveness and it’s either that we have changing variants that are less protected by the, by our vaccine or it’s just the protective antibody concentration has started to dwindle,” Dr. Thacker said.

Memorial has 13 patients hospitalized with the virus, but they also are seeing more patients come to the ER with symptoms.

“What’s also important too, is looking at how many cases are getting diagnosed in our ER’s that don’t get admitted. So, we went from running about 1-3 every 24 hours to 13 in the last 24 hours so to me that’s a signal that there’s this increasing spread and people are pursuing testing because they have symptoms,” Dr. Thacker said.

He said the breakthrough cases are rare and less severe than those without the vaccine but are affecting some populations more so than others.

“What we are learning about those folks that have rare breakthrough infection is that often they are someone who has underlying health conditions that suggest that maybe those are the population of individuals that we need to be thinking about booster shots to really, you know, rev up their immune response so that they have that same high level of antibody protection they had in the first few months after the vaccination,’ Dr. Thacker said.

Though Dr. Thacker does not expect a surge like we’ve seen previously, he says this increase is proof of how critical vaccination is.

“While I don’t think we will see the surges like at the peak of the pandemic, we still will have people get sick, end up in the hospital and some will lose their lives to a disease that is in my mind largely vaccine preventable. So, the message is, if you have not received your vaccination for yourself and you are eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine do it now,” Dr. Thacker said.

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