COVID still out there: State records 102 deaths, 742 hospitalizations over two-week period

Jan. 24—ALBANY — After a spike in COVID-19 cases following the holiday season the number of area residents hospitalized has been decreasing in recent weeks, but the disease is still lingering.

"It's definitely still out there," Dr. Derek Heard, medical director for the Phoebe Physicians Group in Albany, said. "We're doing a good job with testing.

"Although COVID deaths are lower than they were compared to last year, we're still seeing that there are some people who are dying."

On Tuesday there were 21 patients hospitalized in the Phoebe Putney Health System, 16 of those in Albany and five at Phoebe Sumter Medical Center.

Over the two weeks ending on Jan. 18 there were 6,132 confirmed cases in the state and 742 hospitalizations, and 102 coronavirus-positive Georgians died, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

During those two weeks, Stewart County, which had 27 new cases, led southwest Georgia and the state. The rate of infection there was a rate of 42,992 per 100,000 in population, more than double the 21,428 per 100,000 for the state.

Decatur, Early, Miller and Seminole counties also were trending higher than the state average. For that time there were 73 confirmed cases in Dougherty County, a rate of 17,998 per 100,000 in population.

Dougherty County experienced a spike in January, but that number has slowly been dropping. Testing and oral medications that help are helping as COVID is entering the endemic stage, Heard said.

"Vaccination rates have been doing pretty good, although not as high as we'd like," he noted. "That's reducing the severity of symptoms. Vaccination and early treatment will help keep people out of the hospital."

Although face masks have become controversial, or more accurately, political, the physician recommended wearing them when in large crowds and following other recommendations such as hand-washing and -sanitizing.

COVID symptoms have shifted somewhat recently as well. Those infected may have traditional cold/flu symptoms, but many are now having other symptoms.

"Newer symptoms (include) a lot of issues with joint aches, muscle aches, headaches and sore throat," Heard said.

Through the pandemic, there have been 34,574 confirmed deaths of individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 in the state, according to the DPH, and an additional 7,198 deaths for which the disease was the probable cause.