CDC coronavirus

Floyd County has mirrored the downward trend in new COVID-19 cases from a peak in mid-August that’s been touted by state officials.

However, the current seven day average of new cases is still higher than at any point from March through mid-July, when cases trended dramatically upward. State officials have cited evidence that holiday get-togethers in May and July likely sparked COVID-19 flare ups in later months.

On Wednesday, Floyd County had a seven day average of 27.6 new cases from peaks in mid-August in the mid-50s.

State public health officials highlighted promising downward trends in the COVID-19 pandemic following Labor Day weekend in Georgia as researchers race to evaluate potential vaccines.

Since early last week, Georgia’s overall virus transmission rate has fallen by more than double digits through Tuesday, according to data from the state Department of Public Health.

The seven-day average positivity rate – a key marker for assessing the virus’ spread – has dropped from 10.1% to 8.9% over the past roughly two weeks, according to the state agency.

Floyd County’s two-week positivity rate was at 9.4% as of Wednesday. Chattooga and Polk counties were higher — at 14.6% and 10.2% respectively.

Hospitalizations from coronavirus have also decreased since the start of September, though health experts have warned data on mortality and intensive-care visits typically lag by days or even weeks after outbreaks.

Floyd County saw peaks in the number of people hospitalized in early and late July and a coinciding peak in deaths in August. So, far 35 COVID-19 positive Floyd County residents have died. Three of those deaths have been in September, 17 were in August.

Floyd Medical Center had 20 COVID-19 positive patents and Redmond Regional Medical Center had 26 COVID-19 positive patients on Wednesday. That’s down from Aug. 10, when the hospitals reported a total of 60 patients infected with the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Capitol Beat reported that Dr. Carlos Del Rio, a leading Emory University epidemiologist who has focused on the virus since its onset in March, noted Georgia’s virus positivity rate has mimicked a decline across the country over the past few days.

He urged Georgians to continue wearing masks, washing hands and keeping their distance from each other.

“We need to not drop our guard because we are in a good trajectory and we need to keep moving forward,” Del Rio said in a news conference Wednesday morning.

Vaccine clinical trials enter a new phase

Clinical trials entered a new phase last month for a potential vaccine to prevent COVID-19, marking one of a few trials from researchers and lab companies pushing to have a vaccine ready for release in the coming months.

Atlanta-based Emory is one of several institutions participating in clinical trials for a vaccine candidate manufactured by the company Moderna. Researchers in mid-August began recruiting more subjects for expanded testing of the potential vaccine.

Del Rio said Wednesday that while trials are going well, researchers still need more participants from local Black and Latino communities who represent populations that have been hardest hit by the virus and health-care disparities

“You want to be sure that the most affected populations are represented,” Del Rio said.

Vaccine trials have shown promising results so far at Emory and across the country for a so-called mRNA vaccine using genetic sequencing to create proteins that mimic coronavirus, triggering a response from a patient’s immune system to erect safeguards.

Anyone interested in participating in the trials at Emory can sign up by filling out forms or emailing the following:

The COVID-19 Prevention Network: https://www.coronaviruspreventionnetwork.org/.

The Emory Vaccine Center’s Hope Clinic: https://hopeclinic.emory.edu/volunteer/index.html.

The Emory Children’s Center: vaccine@emory.edu.

Emory’s Ponce de Leon Center: ponce.crs@emory.edu.

Beau Evans with Capitol Beat News Service contributed to this report.

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