Health district: The omicron variant is spreading in SWGA

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Published: Jan. 5, 2022 at 6:18 PM EST
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TIFTON, Ga. (WALB) - The South Health District of Georgia covers 10 counties in Southwest Georgia. During Thanksgiving, there were just more than 100 cases in the district. Now, there are more than 700.

The COVID-19 surge is hitting Southwest Georgia the same way it hit Atlanta just two weeks ago. That’s a concern because some hospitals in Atlanta are now overwhelmed with COVID patients.

South Health District Public Information Director Kristen Patten said the current COVID surge has happened much faster than those in the past.

Patten said not only is the omicron variant more transmissible, but it also makes people sick faster.

“We were seeing it to be about five days and now, individuals are getting sick two to three days after exposure,” Patten said.

Many people have had COVID and are vaccinated and received the booster, but tested positive with COVID anyway. Patten said those who are vaccinated and boosted are much less likely to get sick and end up in the hospital.

“We also, of course, continue to recommend the typical mitigation strategies: wearing a mask, social distancing, handwashing and most importantly, staying home when you’re sick,” Patten said.

If you are still not vaccinated but are now ready to get vaccinated, doses are available at all 10 of the county health departments in the South Health District.

Health experts said it’s not too late to change your mind about the vaccine and that it could save your life.

COVID numbers across the health district:

In three weeks, the 7-day case increase for the district’s 10 counties, which includes Ben Hill, Berrien, Brooks, Cook, Echols, Irwin, Lanier, Lowndes, Tift and Turner, has increased more than 20-fold. The 7-day case increase for Dec. 16, 2021 was 116. The 7-day case increase as of Jan. 6, is 2,381.

Rates of those who are fully vaccinated by county as of Jan. 6:

  • Turner – 51%
  • Brooks – 45%
  • Tift – 41%
  • Cook – 39%
  • Ben Hill – 38%
  • Irwin – 38%
  • Lowndes – 37%
  • Berrien – 32%
  • Echols – 32%
  • Lanier – 27%

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