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Athens COVID-19 Rates Hold Steady

Credit: University of Georgia

While progress isn’t happening as quickly as some would like, Clarke County continues to show weekly growth in COVID-19 vaccinations. At the end of last week, 28,744 (23%) of Athens-Clarke County residents had received at least one dose of a vaccine, and another 22,439 (18%) of residents have been fully vaccinated. 

In the weeks ahead, Georgia will receive $96 million in funding from the CDC. These funds will help “fund community-oriented vaccination efforts specifically to help underserved communities in the state,” public health expert Amber Schmidtke noted in her newsletter last week. Further, she noted, these funds mean that serving the medically underserved will be a major priority for the federal government. That bodes well for helping the rest of the community get vaccinated going forward.

In terms of positive cases, the seven-day running average was steady from 10.9 on Apr. 8 to 10.7 on Apr. 16. The cumulative total of confirmed positive cases among Clarke County residents stood at 12,593, an increase of 78 cases for the week. There have been an additional 2,199 positive antigen tests for Clarke County, an increase of 18 cases.

Hospitalizations remained low this week, with just 27 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Region E, which includes Clarke County. That is just 5% of patients in Region E hospitals, down from nearly half at the height of last winter’s spike. 

COVID-19 is still killing people, but recent data suggests deaths are slowing down. Two Clarke County residents died of COVID-19 last week, bringing the total to 133. 

UGA reported only 33 positive tests among students, faculty and staff for the week of Apr. 5. However, surveillance testing rates continue to plummet. There were only 638 surveillance tests administered for the week, compared to 846 the previous week, well below the university’s goal of 1,500 per week. 

UGA vaccine dashboard data shows that UGA has administered 11,096 vaccinations, and 3,499 people had been fully vaccinated by UGA as of Apr. 11. 

Data from the Center for the Ecology of Infectious Diseases Wastewater Lab suggest that rates of viral spread are holding steady, for now. “Viral RNA levels were comparable to those reported last week,” the lab website states. “While the total viral load remains relatively low (in the lower third of all concentrations reported) for Athens-Clarke County, a general upward trend has been observed over a period of three weeks. The 7-day running average of reported cases has increased to 12 cases per day as of 4/9 and the rate of positive tests increased to 5% (compared to 4% positivity on 4/2). These trends suggest that there is a continued need for preventative measures as vaccine distribution increases within the county.”