Northwest Georgia health care leaders urge action to stem COVID-19 spread

Gordon County Health Department, 310 N. River St.

Keeping with countrywide trends, both Gordon County and Georgia as a whole continue to see declining numbers of new cases.

From Tuesday through Wednesday, Gordon County had 21 new cases and two deaths. Statewide, there were 2,151 new cases and 202 deaths.

The CDC indicated that the United States will either near or exceed 750,000 COVID-19 deaths as of Nov. 13 in their newest COVID-19 forecast. The report stated that they expect the U.S. to have hit between 748,000 and 769,000 total confirmed deaths by that date.

The CDC’s case count forecast has shown a predicted 157,000 to 704,000 new cases in the week ending on Nov. 13. While this is a wide range as counts have been difficult to predict, the forecast does still indicate a likely overall continued decrease in case counts countrywide.

In vaccine-related news, the FDA has approved booster shots for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccines.

“As the pandemic continues to impact the country, science has shown that vaccination continues to be the safest and most effective way to prevent COVID-19, including the most serious consequences of the disease, such as hospitalization and death,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D. “The available data suggest waning immunity in some populations who are fully vaccinated. The availability of these authorized boosters is important for continued protection against COVID-19 disease.”

At the same time, the FDA has also approved the usage of heterologous or “mix-and-match” booster shots. This means that those who are eligible may receive a booster dose of any of the three vaccines authorized for use in the United States, regardless of the brand of their first dose.

“We are also taking action today to include the use of mix and match boosters to address this public health need,” said Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “We will work to accrue additional data as quickly as possible to further assess the benefits and risks of the use of booster doses in additional populations and plan to update the healthcare community and public with our determination in the coming weeks.”

Booster shots for the Johnson and Johnson vaccine are approved for those 18 and older, and can be administered two months after the initial vaccination. Booster shots for Pfizer and Moderna are given to individuals in a few authorized categories beginning six months after their original vaccination.

A new study from the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report shows the efficacy of vaccination in children aged 12-18. The study focused on children in that age group who were admitted to hospitals with COVID-19 infections.

The study indicated that 97% of children that were hospitalized were unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated. Of the vaccinated children in the study, none were admitted to the ICU or placed on life support.

Overall, the result of the study showed that vaccination decreased the likelihood of an individual aged 12-18 being admitted to the hospital for a COVID-19 infection by 93%.

Data from the Georgia Department of Public Health shows that 41% of Gordon County residents have had at least one dose of the vaccine, while 37% are fully vaccinated. Statewide, 55% of residents have had at least one dose while 49% are fully vaccinated.

Countrywide, 66% of the population have had at least one dose and around 57% have been fully vaccinated. Of the eligible population 12 and older, those numbers rise to 77% and 67%, respectively.

To schedule a COVID-19 vaccine or booster appointment, log on to dph.georgia.gov/covid-vaccine or call 888-457-0186 for the Health Department Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line. The Gordon County Health Department, 310 N. River Street, Calhoun, is now offering flu shots on a walk-in basis.

Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, or those who have been in close contact with an individual with COVID-19, should be tested regardless of vaccination status. At DPH/Mako Medical test sites, testing is free of charge.

To find a COVID-19 test site, log on to dph.georgia.gov/covidtesting.

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