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COVID Numbers Improve but Remain High in Athens

The COVID-19 virus has infected more than 12,000 Athens residents, killing at least 81 and hospitalizing 367. With reports floating around the internet of groups of maskless students roaming Five Points and packing together on fields for powder-puff football games, here’s a friendly reminder that the pandemic is still, in fact, a thing, although the numbers have improved somewhat lately.

Clarke County’s seven-day rolling average of new cases stood at 72 on Jan. 25, down from a winter high of 109 on Jan. 14, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. That’s good—but still not good enough for Clarke County School District students to return to in-person classes. CCSD has announced that remote learning will be in effect until at least Feb 5.

Local hospitals remain near capacity, with 89% of beds occupied, and intensive-care units are overcrowded. However, a new antibody treatment available at Piedmont Athens Regional for COVID-19 patients with risk factors could help keep people out of the hospital and off ventilators.

Vaccine distribution is ramping up but remains limited to people age 65 and up, nursing home residents, health-care workers and other first responders. Georgia’s vaccination rate jumped from last to 32nd among states last week. Almost 600,000 Georgians have received their first dose, and more than 50,000 received their second, according to the CDC.