Covid hits 34 Fayette students in schools’ first week

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Fayette records 99 new cases since Aug. 2; local hospital in full diversion mode with “overcrowded emergency department” — 

Thousands of Fayette County school students and system employees showed up for the first week of school last week just as the delta variant of the Covid-19 virus began a new surge of cases across Georgia and the U.S.

Meanwhile, as of Aug. 8 at 4:42 p.m., the county’s only hospital is listed by the state as being in “total diversion” for any new emergency admissions of any kind. The state Coordinating Center lists Piedmont Fayette Hospital this way: “Severe — Emergency Department is severely overcrowded.”

Much the same is true for hospitals in surrounding counties: Clayton, Spalding, Henry, and Coweta counties and several hospitals in Fulton County.

At week’s end, one staff member at Burch Elementary School and 34 students systemwide had tested positive for coronavirus, the system’s weekly tally showed.

All middle and high schools reported student infections — but no staff cases — by the Aug. 6 report. Of interest, only 4 of the 14 elementary schools reported student cases, plus one staff member: 1 student case each at Braelinn, Crabapple and Huddleston and 4 at Peeples.

At the middle schools, Whitewater Middle had the most cases at 4, with the others reporting 1 case each.

McIntosh High reported 8 student cases, Starr’s Mill High had 7, while the other 3 had 1 student case each.

But active infections beget a widening pool of exposed students and teachers, resulting in 3 staff members and 204 students being sidelined in quarantine for the next several days. The biggest quarantine hot spot was Whitewater Middle with 61 students placed in remote status.

The report covered only those staffers and students who were in-person at work, school and school activities.

The system protocols for handling the Covid pandemic were set July 23 and masks are “highly recommended” for unvaccinated persons, but are not required, except on school buses.

The system was expecting around 20,000 students to be enrolled with under 700 signed up for remote learning. Around two-thirds of system employees received Covid vaccinations before start of school.

Meanwhile, after a spring and early summer lull in new cases, the more contagious delta variant accounted for 99 new Covid cases for Fayette residents since Aug. 2, bringing the pandemic total to 7,161 for the county. Two more Covid-related fatalities since Aug. 2 brought the Fayette pandemic death toll to 163 confirmed with another 16 deaths considered “likely” Covid related.

Even with the recent rise in cases statewide, Fayette remains one of the bright spots with a 2-week infection rate of still under 3%. That means that out of 100 people tested in the past 2 weeks, only 3 of them were confirmed to have an active Covid infection. For comparison, neighboring Coweta’s 2-week rate is over 18%, while the statewide rate is over 14%.

Hospitalizations are picking up: Admissions of Fayette residents with confirmed Covid infections have increased by 7 since Aug. 2, for a pandemic total of 330 hospitalizations, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health report Aug. 6.

13 COMMENTS

  1. Maybe starting school without a mask mandate was not a great idea. This variant is highly contagious. The Delta Variant is affecting kids just as much as adults(earlier strains affected them less). Pediatric hospitals are filling up in many states. Some kids are being flown to other states because of the diversion status of multiple children’s hospitals. Seasonal Influenza has never killed 600,000 people in a year(Spanish Flu is an exception). Influenza is also not responsible for blood clots or the need for organ transplant in thousands. You cannot try to equivocate covid 19 to influenza. I think the best way to have the least amount of kids being interrupted by quarantine for exposure is through mandatory mask wearing. Masks work. How else do you explain an almost absent flu season last year?

    • I want you to pause for a moment and consider the absolute nonsense you just stated. On the one hand, you think that the COVID rate is bad because people aren’t wearing masks. On the other hand, you think that the reason we didn’t have a flu season last year is because people wore masks. One negates the other.

      We did have a flu season in 2020. It was just 97% reduced because (1) people were practicing social distancing and good hygiene, and (2) we had a record 193.8 million doses of vaccine distributed, 25% more than pre-COVID levels, and for the first time hit the 51% vaccination rate needed to achieve herd immunity across all strains of influenza.

      cdc[dot]gov/flu/prevent/vaccine-supply-historical.htm

      Mask mandates have been demonstrated to be completely ineffective. The States with the strictest mask mandates like California or New York also had the highest rates of community spread. For starters, the procedure masks everyone is wearing were never intended to protect the wearer. They’re less than 40% effective at blocking inhaled particles. Second, the homemade masks everyone is sporting aren’t constructed to an appropriate standard. People are using old linens and t-shirts with less than 150 thread count when 600 thread count is what is needed to be effective. Third, almost nobody is wearing them properly anyway.

      medrxiv[dot]org/content/10.1101/2021.05.18.21257385v1

      Pediatric hospitals are not filling up. A handful of hospitals in the South have hit capacity not because of COVID19, but because of an outbreak of RSV. (Children’s hospitals typically don’t have a lot of capacity to begin with because they’re specialized towards high risk children.) Ironically, RSV has the same transmission pathway as COVID19 and Influenza. So again, your fallacious theory about “masks working” is negated by the spread of a contagious respiratory virus primarily transmitted through community spread. Back to your influenza comparison, the CFR for people under the age of 18 is 0.2% for COVID19. The CFR for influenza in the same age group is 0.8%.

      cdc[dot]gov/surveillance/nrevss/rsv/natl-trend.html
      acsh[dot]org/news/2020/11/18/covid-infection-fatality-rates-sex-and-age-15163
      statista[dot]com/statistics/1127799/influenza-us-mortality-rate-by-age-group/

      By the way… the 1917 Spanish Flu is not an exception. That pandemic was caused by the same H1N1 strain of Influenza A that is still around today. More recently in 2009, the H1N1/09 strain killed as many as 575,000 people globally. In 2009, thanks to our current President’s bungling of the H1N1/09 pandemic response, there were 3,433 deaths across 115,318 confirmed cases, for a 2.97% CFR. COVID19 currently has a 1.72% CFR. The only thing that stopped the 2009 pandemic was the end of the flu season in April. (There was a brief resurgence in October.)

      en[dot]wikipedia[dot]org/wiki/2009_swine_flu_pandemic_in_the_United_States
      www[dot]worldometers[dot]info/coronavirus/country/us/

      Masks don’t work. Social distancing does. So until we have an effective vaccine that people feel comfortable taking such that we can hit 80% vaccination and achieve herd immunity, schools need to stop mandating in-person attendance, and facilitate online learning.

  2. PTCitizen,

    -447 cases of influenza in Fayette County schools in December 2018 seems like a lot to me. Where was the panic? The call for masks? The call for lockdowns? The partisan political hype?
    -“The Fayette County Schools does not provide that information to Mr Beverly”. I wasn’t questioning demographics regarding the FCBOE cases. I specifically mentioned the 99 cases in Fayette County. And can you support this statement? Or did you make an assumption the information is unavailable?
    -Mr. Beverly is a journalist, correct? Are journalists spoon-fed information, or is it their professional duty to find the facts? I am not being critical of Mr. Beverly, I am merely asking for information to provide additional context.
    -The fact that 2/3 of FCBOE employees are vaccinated seems interesting to me. Granted, this audience has not received information such as how many of the outstanding 1/3 of employees are unable to receive the vaccine due to medical reasons.

      • PTCitizen,

        -You understand we are presented with two sets of data? 99 cases is county wide among all residents. 34 cases are specific to FCBOE. Please re-read the article as well as my original post.
        -You mention “The lack of panic around influenza is related to the fact that we have proven and effective vaccines against multiple strains of influenza”. So by that logic, there should be less panic associated with the Delta variant of COVID. According the Yale Medicine, “From what we know so far, people who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus appear to have strong protection against Delta compared to those who aren’t. Recent data on “breakthrough cases, from the Kaiser Foundation (while based on limited available data) put these cases at well below 1% in the United States, and effectively 0% for severe illness and death.” (5 Things to Know About the Delta Variant, August 3, 2021).
        -“Assumption on [my] part”. I reviewed my post and do not see any assumptions presented. Please clarify.
        -I hit the reply button this time! Progress!

          • Obvious? Then why on two occasions did you incorrectly associate 99 cases with FCBOE? You failed to clarify the assumption(s) I allegedly made. Instead of countering my argument with competing ideas supported by factual data, you resorted to saying “that makes no sense”.

            Sounds like you’re out of steam.

  3. Some facts to get the debate started…

    1. January 11, 2019, Fayette County Board of Education issued a statement regarding influenza which reads in part, “Our school nurses documented 447 reported cases of the flu throughout all of our schools in December…”. (FCBOE, “Influenza Information”). Just for some context. 447 flu cases in a single month in our school system.

    2. “CDC estimates that since 2010, flu-related hospitalizations among children younger than 5 years old have ranged from 7,000 to 26,000 in the United States”. (CDC, “Flu & Young Children”). So why the panic surrounding COVID, but not the flu?

    3. According to the Children’s Hospital Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “the rate of pediatric COVID-19 [Delta variant] hospitalizations is about the same as it has been for earlier variants, varying between 0.1% and 1.9% depending on the state”. Furthermore The AAP stated “at this time, it appears that severe illness due to COVID-19 is uncommon among children.” (“Children and COVID-19: State-Level Data Report”, July 26, 2021).

    4. Mr. Beverly does not provide demographics or vaccination status of the 99 new cases in Fayette. Of the 99 new cases, how many of these patients are unvaccinated? How many are in high-risk categories due to age and/or underlying health conditions?

    5. “Around two-thirds of [Fayette County Board of Education] system employees received Covid vaccinations before start of school.” Interesting…

    • Some context to avoid un-necessary debate:

      – The non-pharmaceutical interventions which are moderately effective against SARS-nCOV-2 are highly effective against influenza. That’s why you’re seeing so few flu cases.
      – The lack of panic around influenza is related to the fact that we have proven and effective vaccines against multiple strains of influenza. For SARS-nCOV-2, we have just 3 minimally tested experimental vaccines built around a single target (the spike protein) for a single variant. While that vaccine appears to be effective against 9 of the subsequent variants, the mutations to the spike protein in the Delta variant (including a significant change in the receptor binding domain of the spike protein) appear to make these vaccines significantly less effective. We are seeing significant breakthrough cases in vaccinated individuals. Moderna admitted this last week.
      – People are aware that children do not suffer from this disease as much as adults. However, they’re still capable of carrying the disease.
      – The Fayette County Schools does not provide that information to Mr Beverly, so there should be no expectation that he could provide it. Further, given the low numbers it would be inappropriate to share that information as it would tend to identify the individual.
      – Not really.