VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - The South Health District is currently experiencing the most significant increase in COVID-19 cases that the district has seen since the pandemic began, according to the Department of Public Health (DPH).
DPH said the positive infection rate across the district has increased to between 15-27 percent in the last two weeks. An increase of up to 10 percent from earlier this month and double or more the infection rate from October.
“These numbers are absolutely stunning, and we know that we have just started to see cases from the Christmas holiday which means this will likely continue to increase,” said Dr. William Grow, district health director. “It is extremely important to take precautions, stay home, avoid social gatherings and wear a mask if you must go out in public, especially as we conclude the holiday season. Positivity rate increases like this are going to translate into overwhelmed hospitals, critical illnesses and possibly deaths. All of this can be avoided if people will simply take the precautions that public health has been recommending since March.”
As of Tuesday, the total number of cases district-wide is 14,302, according to case totals for the Georgia Department of Public Health.
Testing rates in the district have continued to increase since October, with public health and hospital testing sites being extremely busy in the last several weeks, according to DPH. This increase in testing, DPH officials pointed out, is important because it allows public health to have an accurate view of the positivity rate within the district.
DPH wants to remind everyone of the importance of continuing precautions such as practicing social distancing, washing your hands, and wearing a mask.
Health departments within the district are now taking COVID-19 vaccine appointments for TIER 1A only, according to DPH. Tier 1A includes frontline healthcare workers, first responders that respond to medical calls and medical providers. Proof of healthcare employment is required.
Free COVID-19 testing continues to be available in all 10 counties across the Georgia Department of Public Health’s South Health District. The South Health District includes Ben Hill, Berrien, Brooks, Cook, Echols, Irwin, Lanier, Lowndes, Tift, and Turner counties.