Local COVID-19 cases move upward

As the number of COVID-19 cases in Grady and surrounding counties starts to go up, local hospital officials are urging everyone in the community to continue to keep their guard up.
Darcy Craven, president and C.E.O. of Archbold Medical Centers, which operates Grady General Hospital, issued the following statement Tuesday, “The number of COVID-positive cases in the Archbold system are beginning to rise. Please continue to help slow the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a face mask in public, using good hand hygiene and physically distancing yourselves from others when in public. It is important that we as a community stay diligent in our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 and continue to keep our community safe.”
Grady General Hospital was treating five COVID-positive patients as of Tuesday while Archbold Memorial Hospital had 26. Last week at this time, Archbold had 15 such patients, while G.G.H. had seven. This week, Mitchell County has three COVID-positive patients. Last week they had zero.
In the Southwest Georgia Public Health Region, the number of intensive care unit beds available is low as of Tuesday with 98 of 106 ICU beds, or 92.45 percent, in use.
The number of patients on ventilators in the region is low, though, with only 26.37 percent of the 292 available ventilators in use, according to information from the Georgia Department of Public Health.
In Grady County, the number of new cases over a two week period has continued to rise over the last several weeks, the Georgia D.P.H. reports. Over the most recent two-week period, Grady County has seen 43 new cases. Last week that number was 36 and the week before that it was 30.
The number of deaths here, though, has remained steady at 27 with no new Grady County residents dying from COVID-19 since mid-November.
The number of positive cases in the Grady County School System remains low with only one student and two employees positive as of Tuesday. The positive student attends Whigham School and both employees work at Southside Elementary School.
Meanwhile, there were 67 students and 11 employees on quarantine as of Tuesday. Those on quarantine at Cairo High School include five students; at Eastside Elementary School are 15 students and two employees; at Northside Elementary School are three students; at Shiver School are four students; at Southside are 24 students and four employees; at Washington Middle School are five students and four employees; and at Whigham are 11 students and one teacher.
The Grady County Health Department will offer free COVID-19 testing on the last two Mondays of December, Dec. 21 and 28, between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. at the department, located at 1030 Fourth St., S.E., Cairo.
Make an appointment online at www.covid19.dph.ga.gov or call the appointment hotline Monday through Saturday at (229) 352-6567.
Georgia health-care workers and nursing home residents will start receiving immunizations against COVID-19 this week as the state Department of Public Health gets its first shipments of a vaccine produced by Pfizer.
The first shipment of 5,850 doses arrived Monday at two locations in Coastal Georgia equipped with ultracold freezers required for storage and temperature control of the vaccine. Additional shipments are expected later this week at facilities in other parts of the state.
It is not known exactly when the vaccine will make it to Grady and surrounding counties.
“Hopefully, this is the beginning of the end of this pandemic,” Christy Norman, vice president of pharmacy services at Emory Healthcare, said Monday during a news briefing.
Dr. Marybeth Sexton, an assistant professor of medicine and epidemiologist at Emory, said health-care workers will be in the first group to get the shots because of concerns that the surge in coronavirus hospitalizations is straining the health-care workforce.
The other group getting top priority to receive the vaccines – residents of nursing homes and other elderly-care facilities – will be served through a partnership the CDC has set up with CVS and Walgreens.
Sexton said the next group to receive vaccinations after health-care workers and residents of elderly-care facilities probably will be essential workers who must leave their homes despite the pandemic, such as grocery store employees and delivery truck drivers.
Another group that will receive high priority are seniors and Georgians suffering from chronic illnesses that leave them vulnerable to the virus, she said.
Medical experts have said achieving “herd immunity” against COVID-19 – the threshold for making further spread of the virus unlikely – is getting 60 percent to 70 percent of the U.S. population vaccinated.

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