December: COVID-19 vaccination programs begin

Dr. Monal Patel, an internal medicine physician with Harbin Clinic, is given her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 21, 2020, by Redmond Regional Medical Center nurse educator Jake Sullivan. Both hospitals began receiving their initial shipments and began vaccinating staff members in late December.

The number of deaths following a surge of COVID-19 infections is continuing to climb as September is becoming the deadliest month for the virus since February.

So far, the Georgia Department of Public Health has reported the deaths of 16 Floyd County residents this month. Two more were reported on Thursday.

Deaths of Floyd County residents from COVID-19 in 2021:

♦ January: 29

♦ February: 19

♦ March: 12

♦ April: 9

♦ May: 9

♦ June: 1

♦ July 3

♦ August: 8

Since the pandemic began, 220 Floyd County residents have died from COVID-19 and 45 more are suspected to have died from the disease caused by the virus.

At this point 247 residents of neighboring Bartow have died from COVID-19, alongside 26 others suspected to have been killed by the virus. It’s a similar story in Gordon County, which has lost around 149 people, and Chattooga County, where the disease has claimed over 70 lives.

After vaccinations were approved for use, the number of COVID-19 infections, and resulting deaths dropped dramatically. Even with the low vaccination rates in Northwest Georgia — just 36% of Floyd County residents are fully vaccinated — it appeared the virus wasn’t much of an issue any longer.

However, the highly infectious Delta variant changed things. Public Health and local medical officials are saying the primary victims of the new strain of COVID-19 are the unvaccinated.

While a small number of vaccinated Georgians with other medical issues have been hospitalized, hospitals are being overwhelmed with the unvaccinated.

Floyd Medical Center routinely releases figures on its social media showing that less than 10% of the patients they’re currently treating for serious COVID-19 infections are vaccinated. On Wednesday, of the 131 patients being treated at the hospital, 121 of them had not been vaccinated against COVID-19.

The influx of patients has devastated an already ailing medical community, and healthcare leaders across Northwest Georgia last week issued a collective plea for the community for help.

“We need your help like never before,” the letter stated. “The pandemic — its current surge driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant — continues to spread throughout Northwest Georgia and is quickly becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated. Most new cases, hospitalizations and people in our critical care units on ventilators and advanced oxygen support are unvaccinated.”

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