COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Chatham County

Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 4:07 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 19, 2021 at 5:15 PM EDT
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CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - The rate of infection is increasing across the board in Chatham County. Not only is the community transmission index up 13 percent from Friday, but the percentage of positive tests and hospitalizations both jumped.

Memorial Health’s Associate Chief Medical Officer Dr. Stephen Thacker says this increase could be connected to the 4th of July, but there could also be another reason.

“I would predict that we’d see rises in cases really for the next one to two weeks if not more because my view around the Delta variant is that it’s just now really taking hold in the state of Georgia. We don’t have the data yet to prove that statement to qualify it, because it’s always a two week look-back to know what was in your state, but certainly it would feel that the rise in cases is related to this new circulating variant,” said Dr. Stephen Thacker,

Coastal Health District Director Dr. Lawton Davis agrees the Delta variant is to blame for the increase and is of concern.

“It’s definitely more contagious and I think the final answer on whether it causes more severe illness is still not fully determined, but there are some who do feel that it causes a more severe illness,” said Dr. Davis.

While virtually all COVID-19 metrics are on the rise, hospitalization levels have continued to increase bringing us back to totals we haven’t seen since mid-March. Dr. Thacker says Memorial’s average patient is about 50 years old. He says they are seeing better outcomes, but the increase in hospitalizations is a concern.

“I’m worried again because anyone who becomes sick and ends up in the hospital from COVID-19 is something that I view as largely preventable at this point in time. So I am worried for that. Do I think we’ll hit the surges that we had in the wintertime at our peak? No, because we do have members of our community vaccinated or having recovered from natural infection, but I don’t want to minimize it because really we shouldn’t have to be talking about surges still at this point in the game. We have a lot of vaccine available,” said Dr. Thacker.

Dr. Davis says they are still vaccinating people, but not as many as they would like to see. Chatham County continues to have a 41 percent fully-vaccinated rate. He encourages the public to be wise.

“Look at where we are, I mean we’re once again in a situation with high community transmission. We know that the three W’s work and we know that they don’t hurt anybody so if you’re going to be in a high-risk situation like we’ve already talked about indoors with others that you don’t know about their vaccination status, wear a mask, watch your distance and wash your hands. Those things work,” said Dr. Davis.

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