The news about COVID-19 in Grady County has improved this week with only 63 new cases reported in the last seven days, compared to 138 the week before.
The school system has also seen a reduction in the number of students and teachers out of school due to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Still, there were three new COVID-related deaths of Grady County residents reported this week by state public health officials, bringing the total to 35 local people killed by the virus.
Meanwhile, the Grady County Health Department is continuing to vaccinate people who have appointments.
Although some people have voiced frustration at being unable to get an appointment, Dr. Charles Ruis, district health director for Health District 8, which includes Grady County, says every health department is administering as many shots as they are staffed to handle.
“Availability of vaccine appointments at all of our health departments is a constantly moving target,” states Dr. Ruis. “For example, people cancel for various reasons or don’t show up, opening up immediate slots for others, sometimes at the last minute when it’s crucial to administer all the doses in an opened vial so as not to waste any.”
Ruis declined to say how many vaccinations the Grady County Health Department had administered at this time.
Appointments for vaccinations may be made by calling the health department, (229) 377-2992.
Archbold Memorial Hospital is also administering free vaccine shots to community members age 65 and older by appointment only. As of Tuesday, they had vaccinated 4,833 people, according to hospital spokeswoman Shealy Register.
People may schedule an appointment at Archbold by calling (229) 584-7468, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., or by using their website, www.archbold.org/covid-19-vaccine.
Dr. Ruis says several local Grady County citizens have volunteered to help in the public health vaccination effort, and several others have expressed interest in paid positions.
He says, “As we move forward in the quest to vaccinate every Southwest Georgia resident that wants to be vaccinated, we anticipate there will be opportunities to add staff at locations throughout the district, which could also create additional appointments at any given time.”
Applications for both paid and unpaid positions may be found on the district health website.
Entering their third week after Christmas break, the Grady County School District is seeing its COVID-19 numbers drop after last week’s high of 452 students on quarantine.
As of Tuesday, there were 297 students and 24 employees on quarantine with eight positive students and eight positive employees. The positive numbers are also down from last week’s numbers of 23 positive students and 13 positive employees.
Students on quarantine as of Tuesday included 167 at Washington Middle School; 48 at Southside Elementary School; 41 at Eastside Elementary School; 29 at Cairo High School; five at Whigham School; four at Shiver School; and three at Northside Elementary School.
Students reporting positive as of Tuesday included two at C.H.S.; two at Eastside; two at W.M.S.; one at Northside; and one at Southside.
Quarantined employees include seven at Southside; four at C.H.S.; four at Eastside; four at W.M.S.; three at Northside; and two in administration offices.
Employees testing positive include two at Southside; two at W.M.S.; one at Eastside; one at Northside; one at Shiver; and one bus driver.
As of Tuesday, Grady General Hospital was treating 10 covid-positive patients while Archbold Memorial Hospital in Thomasville had 38 such patients and Mitchell County Hospital had one, according to Shealy Register.
Public health information indicates that our health district was utilizing 118 of 122 total Intensive Care Unit beds, or 96.72 percent. The district continues to slowly add to the total number of I.C.U. beds. Last week public health listed 115 total I.C.U. beds available compared to this week’s 122.
The Grady County Health Department continues to offer free testing, with the next date being Tuesday, Jan. 26, 1:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Appointments are encouraged and may be made online at www.covid19.dph.ga.gov or by calling (229) 352-6567 Monday through Friday.
The health department is located at 1030 Fourth St., S.E.