Covid

Madison County School System covid numbers were down this past week compared to the previous week, but covid claimed four more Madison County lives this past week and hospitalizations continue to mount.

The Georgia Department of Public Health reported 47 confirmed covid deaths in Madison County as of Aug. 31. That number rose to 51 by Sept. 7. Nineteen Madison County residents have been hospitalized over the past two weeks, according to the DPH.

The county’s positivity rate was 28.8 percent Tuesday, the highest its been since February, with 166 new cases reported between Aug. 31 to Sept. 7.

The school system released updated covid numbers Sept. 3, with 31 students positive at the time for covid and 11 staff members. That was down from 62 students and 14 staff members positive the previous week. The report listed the following combined student/staff active positive cases by school on Sept. 3: Hull-Sanford Elementary School, 11; Madison County Middle School, eight; Madison County High School, eight; Comer Elementary School, four; Danielsville Elementary School, two; Colbert Elementary School, two; Early Learning Center, two; and Ila Elementary School, one.

Hull-Sanford is the only school this week at “level 2” in Madison County’s four-tiered covid response protocol. Face coverings are encouraged but not required in classes at that level. Face coverings are worn at “level 3,” which is in effect if there are 13-to-18 active cases at Hull-Sanford, five-to-eight at the Early Learning Center, 10-to-13 at Comer Elementary, 11-to-15 at Colbert, Danielsville and Ila Elementary Schools, 28-to-40 at Madison County Middle School, and 34-to-49 at Madison County High School. Schools may go to online learning when “Level 4” is declared.

The public is required to wear a mask at Madison County facilities and commission chairman Todd Higdon said this is not just to keep the workers safe, but the public, as well. He said there are about 20 county employees away from work currently positive for covid. The county commissioners recently heard a presentation from Elizabeth Allen, County Nurse Manager for the Madison County Health Department, who urged everyone to get vaccinated against covid-19.

As of Tuesday, 38 percent of Madison County residents were fully vaccinated, compared to 44 percent in Georgia and 53 percent nationally. Surrounding counties were are follows: Banks, 26; Clarke, 42; Jackson, 38; Elbert, 36; Hart, 33; Barrow, 35; Franklin, 31; Oglethorpe, 38; and Oconee, 54.

The state reports that 98.6 percent of ICU beds in the Athens region are in use, with inpatient beds at 91.1 percent capacity. Adult ventilators in the Athens area are at 64.9 percent capacity.

DPH SHARES FACTS ON DELTA VARIANT

Here is what the Georgia Department of Public Health has to say about the Delta variant:

•Getting vaccinated prevents severe illness, hospitalization, and death; it also helps reduce the spread of the virus in communities.

•Unvaccinated individuals should get vaccinated and continue masking until they are fully vaccinated.

•With the Delta variant, this is more urgent than ever. The highest spread of cases and severe outcomes is happening in places with low vaccination rates.

•Data show Delta is different than past versions of the virus: it is much more contagious.

•Some vaccinated people can get Delta in a breakthrough infection and may be contagious.

•Even so, vaccinated individuals represent a very small amount of transmission occurring around the country.

•Virtually all hospitalizations and deaths continue to be among the unvaccinated.

•In areas with substantial and high transmission, CDC recommends that everyone (including fully vaccinated individuals) wear a mask in public indoor settings to help prevent spread of Delta and protect others.

•CDC recommends that community leaders encourage vaccination and masking to prevent further outbreaks in areas of substantial and high transmission.

•CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. Children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with layered prevention strategies in place. For more information visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/index.html

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