Pandemic numbers in decline, Fayette closes in on key infection target

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Graph above is close-up of Covid cases reported in Fayette County from Oct. 1, 2020, through March 6, 2021. The 7-day moving average is the yellow line in the graph provided by the Georgia Department of Public Health.
Graph above is close-up of Covid cases reported in Fayette County from Oct. 1, 2020, through March 6, 2021. The 7-day moving average is the yellow line in the graph provided by the Georgia Department of Public Health.

Fayette’s elderly account for 8 out of 10 local Covid deaths — 

Three days short of the one-year anniversary of the first reported Covid-19 case in Fayette County, the county’s 2-week infection rate of new cases has dropped to 5.3% after a January high of 15.3%.

Fayette’s 5.3% 2-week rate is within shouting distance of the 5% mark, considered a significant marker for the point in a pandemic when control measures and natural causes are producing consistent declines in new infections. A “pandemic” changes to “endemic” when Covid is still present in the population but no longer increasing beyond the 5% rate of confirmed new cases.

Fayette’s new cases for March 6 are 9, bringing the pandemic total to 6,217. The 2-week new case total is 373, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

Statewide, DPH recorded 1,280 new cases to bring the total to 827,397. The state death toll increased 71 to a pandemic total of 15,597.

But Covid fatalities are another matter. Considered a “trailing indicator,” the deaths from a viral surge generally lag behind case numbers from a few days to a few weeks.

Fayette deaths from Covid been following that statistical trend. The county’s Feb. 22 death toll stood at 124. Two weeks later, that toll has risen to 134, an increase of 10.

In the last 3 days (since Feb. 3) 5 people have lost their lives to the coronavirus infection: On March 4, a white female, age 78, and a white male, 80, both with no underlying medical conditions; on March 5, a white female, 66, and a white male, 76, both with no other conditions; and on March 6, a white male, age 90, also with no underlying conditions.

The DPH data reveal a stark reality: Fayette residents from age 70 and up represent nearly 80% of all Covid deaths locally — 106 victims out of the county total of 134 deaths (79.1%). One particular subset — persons 90 years old — represent 18 of all victims, or 13.4% of the total. So far no one over 90 has died of Covid locally, according to DPH figures.

On the younger side, only 9 persons under age 60 have died of Covid, under 7% of the total death toll. The youngest was a 32-year-old white male with underlying medical problems, DPH reported. That represents a fatality risk level of under two-tenths of 1% for people under age 60 in Fayette.

Meanwhile, in-county Covid vaccinations still have not topped 10,000 yet. The March 6 vaccination report shows 9,738 persons getting at least one shot to date. Health officials are quick to point out that eligible people can get shots anywhere, so an unknown number of Fayette folks may have been vaccinated in the multiple mass shot sites outside the county, while the 9,738 local number may include residents from other counties. (The nearby graph contains a typographical error in the total number of vaccinations in Fayette.)

The state is adding 5 additional drive-thru sites  March 17 for anybody in the eligible brackets to get their Covid shots. “The state’s mass vaccination program will have the capacity to administer 45,000 doses weekly between nine sites throughout the state,” Gov. Brian Kemp said last week.

Nearly 60% of Georgia’s elderly population have received at least one vaccine dose, which is higher than the national average of 49%, Kemp said.

The sites will operate Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The five new GEMA/HS Mass Vaccination Sites will be located in the following cities:

• Columbus-Muscogee Site — Columbus, GA

• Washington County Site — Sandersville, GA

• Chatham County Site — Savannah, GA

• Bartow County Site — Emerson, GA

• Ware County Site — Waycross, GA

Appointments are required to receive a vaccine, and although registrations are not yet available for these new sites, residents can pre-register for vaccination at MyVaccineGeorgia.com.

Effective March 8, Pre-K through 12 educators and staff, adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their caregivers, and parents of children with complex medical conditions are eligible for vaccination, in addition to individuals who meet the phase 1A+ guidelines.

Phase 1A+ includes healthcare workers, residents and staff of long-term care facilities, adults aged 65+ and their caregivers, and first responders (law enforcement, fire personnel including volunteer fire departments, dispatchers and 9-1-1 operators).