AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — After weeks of declines, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising again in the CSRA.
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During her most recent briefing Wednesday, Dr. Brannon Taxler, South Carolina’s Public Health Director, said the state is “experiencing a three-week increase in cases.” Cases rose by 58 percent last week alone.
“COVID-19 is now a vaccine-preventable disease,” Taxler warns. “South Carolinians don’t need to continue to die and become hospitalized and sick from this disease.”
“Unvaccinated people are fueling the pandemic,” she adds.
Cases have been climbing in Georgia as well.
“Compared to five weeks ago, hospitalized patients in Georgia are up about 80 percent,” Dr. Rodger MacArthur says.
Dr. Rodger MacArthur, an infectious diseases physician at the Medical College of Georgia, says the driving factor behind this increase is the Delta variant of the virus. It is infecting young people, specifically 16 to 18-year-olds at alarming rates, according to MacArthur.
“The Delta variant apparently has 1000 times replication capacity compared to the other variants,” MacArthur explains. “The virus replicates faster, and there’s more of the virus in the lungs.”
MacArthur says a majority of the COVID-19 patients hospitalized at AU Health are unvaccinated. Doctors Hospital is seeing similar trends.
MacArthur says the CSRA has not reached a point in which he would encourage city and county leaders to reimplement mask mandates. But, he encourages vaccinated and unvaccinated people to wear them indoors and in crowded places.
“We have seen breakthroughs among vaccinated people as well. They don’t get as sick, but you can feel really bad if you get infected with the Delta variant.”
Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis is closely monitoring the situation.
“It’s important for folks, particularly individuals who have not been vaccinated, to continue to wear their masks,” Davis advises. “That’s probably more important than anything right now — encouraging people to get vaccinated.”