Nearly 1,000 people in Jackson County had confirmed Covid cases over the last two weeks, giving the county the worst rate of new infections in North Georgia.
The 933 confirmed infections over the last two weeks put the county a rate of 1,249 per 100,000 people. That is the highest in the northern part of the state and the third worst rate statewide.
In addition, the county reported one of the state's highest positive rates with 30% of testing proving to be positive for the virus.
Since March 2020, nearly 6,000 people in the county have tested positive for the virus with 316 people hospitalized and 64 confirmed deaths. There are an additional 10 deaths that are suspected to having been due to Covid.
December was one of the county's deadliest months with 11 reported deaths. There has been one death so far in 2021.
The youngest death was of a 28-year-old white male. The most recent deaths were a 45-year-old white male with no known underlying conditions and a 49-year-old white male with underlying conditions.
As the virus continues to spread, the state is starting to ramp up its distribution of two approved Covid vaccines.
So far, only healthcare workers and those in long-term care facilities are receiving the vaccine.
Last week, the state said it would modify its vaccine plans to include those over age 65 with medical conditions to get a higher priority. The next wave is also supposed to include first responders and law enforcement officers.
Non-healthcare individuals in Jackson County who are not a first responder can preregister for the vaccine by going to the district health website at:
While the vaccine is starting to be administered, some reports indicate the rollout in the state has been exceedingly slow.
While the federal government allocated funding to develop and then ship the vaccines, it did not allocate funding for the states to actually administer the vaccine until the most recent legislation was passed.
Dr. Amber Schmidtke, who does a regular analysis of Covid data in a daily email, said this week that there had been too much confusion over how the vaccine was being delivered to patients.
"Unfortunately, the rollout is not going smoothly at all, both in terms of logistics as well as messaging," she said.
She also said that under-staffing at state health departments is a problem. In some areas, state health departments are taking people off of testing and moving them to administer the vaccine, a situation that could slow the testing for the virus.
"But this policy change will drive our percent positive rate higher and we will miss more cases," she said. "Combined with growing pandemic complacency and fatigue, flying blind not knowing where the cases are is a recipe for catastrophe."