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Chatham Co. Health Dept. shares concerns with county commissioners over rise in COVID-19 cases

Published: Jul. 16, 2021 at 4:01 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The top administrator for the Chatham County Health Department shared his concerns with County Commissioners on Friday about what he called the start of what appears to be a disturbing trend.

Chatham County Health Department Administrator, Dr. Chris Rustin, didn’t waste time getting into the latest COVID case numbers, and upward trend in the county.

“The community transmission index, which is probably one of the more important statistics that we look at because it gauges the number of new cases over a period of two weeks, as you can see on July 1 was 53. And as of yesterday it doubled, over doubled to 111,” said Dr. Rustin.

Dr. Rustin also noted that while COVID-related hospitalizations aren’t at the highs we saw locally at the beginning of the year, they’re also starting to rise.

“We’re monitoring this very closely, and we hope that this is an anomaly, but based off of all of the data that we’re seeing state-wide and nationally, this does certainly appear to be the start of a disturbing trend.”

District 8 Commissioner Kenneth Adams asked Dr. Rustin if perhaps it was a mistake to walk back COVID-related restrictions.

“Based on the data that we had in hand, and I said earlier, the data showed that we had a really declining number of cases. And so decisions are made based on data in hand. But the trends that we’re seeing now are concerning. And I would recommend this Board continue to monitor that. And we’ll certainly continue to provide that information to the Board.”

Currently, 41 percent of Chatham County’s population is fully vaccinated, just a few percentage points higher than the state average.

Rustin pointed out that at this point nearly all deaths and hospitalizations due to COVID-19 involved an unvaccinated population, adding the only way to curb deaths and severe illness from the virus is to get more people vaccinated.

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