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More Opportunities for COVID Vaccination in Athens

Credit: University of Georgia

The most recent COVID-19 data continue to show relatively low levels of the virus in the Athens community. Local vaccination numbers have also continued to increase as more supply has become available, and those numbers will increase further this week as Clarke County teachers and staff receive their first dose.

The seven-day running average of new cases was steady at 19 as of Mar. 9, with 123 positive tests in the past week. Clarke County has had a total of 14,306 confirmed or likely cases, including antigen tests. Hospitalizations continued to decline, with just 11 new COVID-19 hospitalizations. Patients hospitalized with COVID-19 decreased by 20, with 71 people hospitalized, or just 12% of all patients in Region E. Intensive care units were at 88% capacity, with 62 beds in use. The virus has killed at least 117 Clarke County residents and probably caused at least seven additional deaths. 

Wastewater data from Erin Lipp’s lab at the Center for the Ecology of Infectious Diseases at UGA showed that the viral load has remained stable for the last three weeks, and results suggest “persistent viral shedding in the community, but at levels well below their peak in January,” the lab website states.

At UGA, there was a continued decrease in positive cases, with 51 positive cases reported for the week of Feb. 22-28. There were 1,929 surveillance tests administered for the week.

As of Mar. 4, 35,561 vaccine shots had been administered in Clarke County, with 4,687 vaccines given last week. The Northeast Health District administered 11,020 vaccines last week. Those numbers should continue to increase this week, as teachers and staff from Clarke and Oconee counties will be given the chance to get vaccinated this week. Piedmont Athens Regional opened a mass vaccination site at its Oconee County campus that serves Oconee County School District employees as well as eligible vaccine recipients who’ve been hospital patients within the past 12 months. The Northeast Health District is vaccinating Clarke County School District employees on Mar. 10 and 31.

For those who qualify for phase 1A+ now and haven’t been able to get an appointment, public health expert Amber Schmidtke suggested looking into private pharmacies for appointments. Kroger, Ingles, Publix, CVS, Walgreens and Walmart all have open appointments, Schmidtke noted. In addition, people can pre-register regardless of eligibility at Schmidtke also suggested that those who aren’t eligible help someone who is eligible to schedule an appointment or offer them a ride.