Vaccine

Jackson County doesn't yet have a site for the public to get vaccinated for the Covid virus, according to the Georgia Department of Health.

This week, the state expanded its pool of people eligible for the vaccine to those over the age of 65, but according to some reports, district health offices have been flooded with calls and registrations crashing some of the systems.

The disarray in how the state is getting the vaccine to the public makes Georgia last in the nation for a vaccinate rate, according to Dr. Amber Schmidtke who produces weekly newsletter updates about Covid in the state.

"Georgia is still ranked last among the 50 states, with a vaccination rate that is 1,122 per 100,000 residents," she said Monday.

Those living in Jackson County now have to register with the district health office in Athens to get the vaccine. So far, there is no central state website for vaccine registration.

Several pharmacies and medical facilities in Jackson County have been allocated a small amount of the Moderna vaccine, but the status of those allocations is unclear.

The situation has reportedly overwhelmed district health offices who don't have the funds or staffing to do both Covid testing and administration of the vaccine. 

Large health care system are administering the vaccine to their staff and pharmacists from CVS and Walgreens are being employed to vaccinate people in long-term facilities, such as nursing homes.

HOSPITALS SLAMMED

Meanwhile, the virus continues to surge in Northeast Georgia with additional hospitalizations and deaths.

According to Schmidtke, Athens hospitals are being especially hit hard.

"I am especially concerned about region E (Athens-Clarke and surrounding counties)," she said. "They’ve been coping with an overage of ICU bed usage for six days straight now and nearly half of all of their hospitalized patients are being treated for COVID-19. They’ve clearly been trying to overcome this challenge by adding more ICU beds (+11 beds since the start of the year) but even those reinforcements have been exhausted. They remain in an overage, using 114% of their available ICU beds."

Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 patients at Northeast Georgia Health System (Gainesville-based) remained over 300 during the past week.

As of Jan. 11, the hospital system was treating 341 positive COVID patients, with 83 at Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton. NGHS reached a new peak on Jan. 8, when it had 355 positive patients with 94 of those at NGMC Braselton.

Bed capacity remains stretched system-wide, with 698 beds occupied and 40 available. At NGMC Braselton, there are nine available beds with no available beds in the ICU department.

As of Jan. 11, Jackson County has had 340 people hospitalized with the virus.

JACKSON COUNTY

The virus continues to hit Jackson County hard with an additional 1,133 new cases reported over the last two weeks. That gives the county the highest rate in North Georgia for the second week in a row.

The county set a new record on Jan. 8 with 118 cases confirmed in a single day, a number that does not include those tested with the antigen test. To date, the total number of confirmed cases has topped 6,600 county residents.

The percentage of those testing positive continues to also be high at around 30%, far above the overall state rate of 19.3%.

Deaths also continue to rise with the county not recording 67 known Covid deaths and 10 possible deaths.

Two people died of the virus on Jan. 8, bringing the total so far in January to four deaths, according to state data.

The most recent death reported was of a 41-year-old male with no underlying health conditions, according to state records.

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