Every heavily-populated county in metro Atlanta is now under the “high” community level of COVID-19 case transmission Friday morning.
That’s according to the latest data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which was released on Thursday.
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State officials attribute the rise in COVID-19 cases on the new BA.5 variant going around.
“Now what we’re seeing is that it actually is around 60%, and if you look at that relative to just a few weeks ago, that’s a huge jump,” Georgia state epidemiologist Dr. Cherie Drenzek told Channel 2′s Richard Elliot earlier this week.
The Georgia Department of Public Health updates their numbers currently just once a week on Wednesday.
This week’s data showed COVID-19 cases are up 24%, rising from 15,394 cases to 19,097 cases this week over last week.
Still, the rate of hospitalizations remains relatively low. There are just over 1,200 COVID-19 patients in Georgia hospitals, according to the GDOH. That represents just 7.5% of hospitalized patients.
During the peak of the Delta variant in September 2021, more than 6,000 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.
Of those people hospitalized last week with the virus, 440 were unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, 135 had only gotten one dose of the vaccine and 155 were fully vaccinated and boosted.
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These are the recommendations from the CDC when your county is in the high level:
Wear a mask indoors in public and on public transportation.
Channel 2′s Tom Regan was in DeKalb County, where people were headed to the pharmacy to get vaccinated. At the Briarcliff Pharmacy, they used to only give vaccine shots on Friday, but recently there’s been so much demand that they are doing it every day of the week.
Kathy Armisted had been meaning to get her second vaccine booster for awhile, but never got around to it. What finally got her in the door was the BA.5 variant.
“I know more people now than I knew in the beginning who have gotten COVID,” Armisted said, “so it’s time to buckle down and make sure I’m safe.”
The pharmacy said a rising wave of customers are calling to make a vaccine appointment or simply showing up to get their first show and get fully vaccinated.
“There’s a mass amount of people getting COVID,” pharmacist Demetrius Gavalas said. “And that’s why a lot of people are rushing to get back in, especially the elderly and more immunocompromised patients.
The pharmacy has also been taking vaccines to assisted living facilities and nursing homes, places fearful of a virus outbreak, that could lead to restrictions.
“We actually did a few clinics earlier in the week, to get them boosted,” Gavalas said. “Especially with the rate of people going in and out of homes.”
While many health officials are concerned over the surge of infections, others aren’t giving it much thought.
“I didn’t even know about it,” Mike Lacey said.
“You just have to live with it,” Daquan Holliway said. “You can’t delete it now. It’s in the world.”
Regan talked to a few businesses about whether or not they plan to reimpose mask mandates. They say they’re waiting to see what their local health department says.
According to the Georgia Department of Health, only 57% of residents are fully vaccinated. Just 43% have had a booster.