ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Some COVID-19 restrictions, including bans on gatherings and distance requirements in businesses, will relax Thursday in Georgia.
WALB spoke with Phoebe to see if Dougherty County is ready for restrictions to roll back. Dougherty County was one of the first COVID-19 hotspots at the start of the pandemic.
Dr. Kathy Hudson, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital chief medical officer, said she hopes the executive order to relax distancing requirements was based on data.
“The governor makes the tough decisions and I’m hoping that he relied on the data to support this decision,” said Hudson.
According to state statistics, southwest Georgia has the best vaccination rate in the state.
Hudson said nearly 27% of all Georgians have gotten at least their first vaccine, with 12% fully vaccinated.
The same study indicates 24% of Dougherty County received at least their first shot.
“We’re just not seeing a big surge of people coming to get vaccinated at our clinics, but there’s so many more available locations to vaccinations across the state. I’m hoping that they are seeking that opportunity,” said Hudson.
She said getting people vaccinated is the best way to get a handle on infection and prevent another surge.
“There’s still a lot of people that could get vaccinated that have not. If you haven’t been vaccinated, please get vaccinated. That is your best protection to prevent you from getting COVID,” said Hudson.
Hudson said it’s hard to pinpoint where the community is when it comes to herd immunity.
“Herd immunity is people being vaccinated or people having had COVID and having their own immunity. And so, we really don’t know where those numbers are exactly. We feel there’s some people that had COVID and we don’t have them in our statistics,” she said.
Hudson said the number of patients in the hospital has come down dramatically since the last surge in January and February.
“Today, we have 26 patients in the hospital whereas in February, we had over 100. That may support some evidence of herd immunity with more people getting vaccinated,” said Hudson.
Hudson said they’ve seen a decline in testing and encourage people to get tested when experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
Although restrictions will be more relaxed, Hudson said you can still practice social distancing and wearing a mask.
To set up an appointment, you can call Phoebe at (229) 312-1919.