“We have more than turned the corner,” COVID cases dropping locally


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– COVID-19 cases have dropped significantly across the state of Georgia over the last month.

The first week of September we saw more than 300 people hospitalized with Coronavirus. 167 COVID patients at University Hospital, 131 at AU Health, and 16 at Charlie Norwood VA.

Today, that number has dropped by 50%.

“We have more than turned the corner. Not only are hospitalizations half of what they were a month ago, number of cases are down as well,” infectious disease physician at AU Health, Dr. Rodger MacArthur said.

What’s behind the encouraging numbers? Infectious disease experts say it’s because of natural immunity through COVID exposure or recovery, and more people are getting their shots. Nearly half of eligible Georgians are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

“A lot of the patients that have come into the hospital are unvaccinated,” infectious disease physician at AU Health, Dr. Jose Vazquez said. “And because they’re unvaccinated they are sicker, and they’re sicker means they end up in the intensive care unit and they end up on mechanical ventilators.”

More vaccinations and more natural immunity through antibody production are developments that doctors say could signal a turning point.

“I don’t think COVID will be going away. I think we are moving from a pandemic to an epidemic to maybe even an endemic. Meaning it could be like the flu where we may need a vaccine every year,” Dr. Vazquez said.

“Many of us thought the last surge was going to be the last surge. But it wasn’t. However, I think that this may very well be the last big surge,” Dr. MacArthur said. “I say that because more and more folks are getting vaccinated, and more and more folks are getting natural immunity. So the virus is running out of targets.”

Dr. MacArthur and Dr. Vazquez say it’s likely there will be a yearly COVID shot in the future.

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