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COVID Cases Rose Slightly in Athens Last Week

Credit: University of Georgia

COVID-19 cases remained low in Clarke County again last week, despite wastewater data the week prior that was slightly elevated.

The Georgia Department of Public Health made a switch from daily COVID-19 status updates to weekly updates last week, with new weekly data released each Wednesday. Last week’s data update showed an increase in the seven-day running average of new cases for Clarke County from 3.1 per day on Wed., April 13 to 5.9 on Wed. April 20. Given the prevalence of at-home testing that’s rarely reported to the public health agency and lack of PCR testing by the general public, the weekly update seemed a likely move, according to many public health experts in the states.

For Clarke County, however, Erin Lipp’s wastewater monitoring data via UGA’s Center for the Ecology of Infectious Diseases provides another means to keep an eye on the state of the virus in the local community. Last week’s update, released on Friday, did not show a continuation of rising viral levels that were seen the week prior. According to the weekly lab report, “viral load remains stable. This week, there was consistent agreement between the Monday and Wednesday estimates. Averaged across the week, loads were comparable to the previous week’s average. These observations are consistent with reported cases. As of 4/20, the 7-day running average of new cases reported in Athens-Clarke County appear to remain stable at 6 cases per day.”

Nine Clarke County residents were hospitalized for COVID-19 last week, according to DPH data, for a total of 1,183 hospitalizations to date. Two Clarke County residents died of COVID-19 last week. To date, at least 219 residents have died of the virus. Clarke County has not had a week without COVID-19 deaths recorded since early January of this year. 

The picture for local hospitals remains stable at this time, with six patients, or just 1% of all patients for the region, hospitalized with the virus. ICU bed capacity was at 69.5% as of Apr. 20. 

Vaccination rates remain low, however. Last week, 38 Clarke County residents received the first dose of vaccine and 47 residents were fully vaccinated. To date, 66,578 residents, or 53%, have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 61,951 residents, or 49%, have been fully vaccinated. Booster doses continue to be administered at a slow and steady rate, with 124 booster doses administered for the week.