DPH South Health District: Nearly 700 new COVID cases reported in last 2 weeks
VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - As concerns grow over the COVID-19 Delta variant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put mask recommendations back on the table, including for those who have been vaccinated.
The Department of Public Health South Health District (SHD) said positive cases are increasing and it has seen almost 700 new cases reported over the last two weeks across 10 counties.
“We’re starting to see such a large increase from where we were several weeks ago and it’s pretty alarming. We’re concerned of course,” said Kenneth Lowery, an epidemiologist at the South Health District.
The SHD serves 10 counties, including Lowndes Brooks and Cook.
Lowery said just a month ago, they were seeing a handful of positive cases. Now, he said the numbers are overwhelming.
Some of those who are testing positive are vaccinated but are experiencing light symptoms.
Lowery said most cases are from those who have not been vaccinated and are experiencing severe symptoms that require them to be hospitalized.
“So we’re contributing this to the Delta variant being present in our community. Now we are starting to send more specimens and hopefully get more information on what type of burden do we have of the Delta variant within our communities,” said Lowery.
Lowery said they’re currently working to see how much of the Delta variant is active in the district. That information will be key as to how to approach the situation.
Another difference in the surge is the ages of those testing positive.
“We are seeing younger individuals getting sick from COVID, probably more so than we did maybe in our last few surges. Typically, in our younger, 3 and older and up to our college students,” said Lowery.
In the past few months, SHD has seen a steady decrease in people getting vaccinated. They hope that’ll change.
As for masks, the CDC now recommends even vaccinated people to wear them indoors in areas where transmission is high, including Texas, Louisiana and Florida.
The Georgia Department of Public Health reported 129 positive cases in Lowndes County in the last two weeks.
Schools and city buildings have already made changes to their mask policies.
The South Health District said nearly 60% of Georgians are not fully vaccinated and that number is much higher in some of the counties they serve.
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