Fayette schools see big drops in new cases, quarantines, while Fayette records new pandemic peak

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Fayette School System Covid report for week of Aug. 21-27.
Fayette School System Covid report for week of Aug. 21-27.

Last week brought good news on the school front, but somber news on the countywide Covid case count.

Fayette County’s 24 public schools recorded big drops in both new infections and resulting quarantines that had sidelined students, teachers and staff members, according to the system’s Friday Covid-19 report.

The schools’ infections numbers dropped 35%, while the resulting quarantine numbers declined 87%, the report showed. All Fayette public schools were under a mask mandate for 4 days last week. The face covering will remain mandatory through Sept. 17.

Schools recorded 174 confirmed infections from Aug. 21 through Aug. 27 — 156 students and 18 teachers and staff members. That’s down from the previous week’s report of 242 students and 24 staffers infected.

Starr’s Mill High School and J.C. Booth Middle School remained hot spots — 22 at SMHS (including one staff member) and 20 at Booth, about the same as the previous week. On the other hand, the previous week’s hot spot, McIntosh High, dropped to 4 new student cases, campared to the previous week’s 26 students and 1 staffer.

The most dramatic change was in numbers of people forced to go home to quarantine. The previous week’s quarantine contingent was 737. That dropped a whopping 642 sidelined persons week to week: 737 quarantined the previous week, but 95 in quarantine last week. That alone puts a lot more people back in classrooms.

The figures also provide fresh fodder for debates about mandatory versus optional wearing of face coverings — a debate that resulted in a large crowd of citizens at the Aug. 23 Board of Education meeting.

Across Fayette County, since Aug. 20, test-confirmed Covid cases have increased by 504, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. Also since Aug. 20, 5 more Covid fatalities were recorded among Fayette residents.

Perhaps the most worrisome statistic of all is this: 50 Fayette residents with Covid have been admitted to already crowded hospitals since Aug. 20. During the week a small contingent of Georgia National Guard medical professionals were deployed to Piedmont Fayette Hospital to give some relief to the doctors, nurses and medical technicians already working flat out.

Fayette now has recorded 8,198 test-confirmed cases, 169 deaths and 390 total hospitalizations — 50 of those since Aug. 20.

The charts below show the trends. Aug. 27 marked the new peak in the pandemic for new cases in Fayette. The previous peak of cases in Fayette occurred Jan. 14, 2021, when the 7-day moving average of new cases hit 56.1 per day. The new peak now is Aug. 27, 2021, with a 7-day moving average of 61.6 per day. Officially, the current delta-driven surge of new cases — almost exclusively among unvaccinated persons — has now exceeded all previous surges since March 2020.

DPH data-driven graphs below show Covid cases over time at numbers per date, statewide cases over time, statewide medical facility patient census, and statewide hospital beds in use and ventilator availabilities.

Fayette Covid cases over time. Graph/GA DPH.
Fayette Covid cases over time. Graph/GA DPH.

18 COMMENTS

  1. It is worth noting, the number “quarantined” is actually pretty unreliable, as exposed students and staff have 2 options for quarantine:

    1 – traditional quarantine at home for specified time
    2 – modified quarantine – attend school and wear a mask for specified time

    With this practice in place, the quarantine nunbers are falsely low.

    I know this seems ridiculous, but it is true.

    The FCBOE is clearly demonstrating a belief in the efficacy of masks.

    Why else would they allow exposed students and staff to “semi-quarantine”?

    Food for thought.

  2. The recent drop in Covid-19 cases in Fayette County public schools is welcome news! Please note, schools that were seeing an uptick in cases instituted mask mandates prior to the county-wide mandate. More to the point, there is no sound argument against the use of face masks to mitigate the spread of the virus when Piedmont Fayette Hospital emergency room is “severely overcrowded.”

    • Perhaps you missed the comment below from yesterday from PTCitizen:
      PTCitizen August 29, 2021 at 7:14 pm
      The mask mandate was put into place August 25th. This report is for the week of 8/21-8/27. The incubation period for covid is 5 days. That correlates to a drop in exposures between 8/16-8/22, well before the mask mandate was put in force.

          • You are misinformed.

            August 17th: 11 of 24 Fayette public schools mandate masks

            August 19th:15 Fayette public schools under mask mandates

          • Fake news. You’re just making stuff up at this point. Only four schools by the 18th? Where did you get that number? At least 8 schools implemented mask mandates by the the 16th and, as the user above me mentioned, 15 total schools had a mandate before that week even ended. Stop the madness.

    • Yes! It does look like it is working (much to the chagrin of the angry, pinched-faced naysayers at the school board meeting). If wearing a mask during the better part of the day keeps one kid from dying then it is worth it (in my opinion).

      • The mask mandate was put into place August 25th. This report is for the week of 8/21-8/27. The incubation period for covid is 5 days. That correlates to a drop in exposures between 8/16-8/22, well before the mask mandate was put in force.

        • Thank you PTCitizen! Your comment was very well said and easy to understand (even for us angry, pinched-face naysayers at the school board meeting.) 😉 The wildcats of the world, well, there’s not much you can say to open their eyes and minds. They’ll follow the rest of the sheeple out there and then try to incite civil war among us “naysayers”. Masks are not the reason for the decline in cases in this particular instance. But good luck convincing them of this…. it doesn’t fit their narrative.

        • To be a bit more accurate Citizen, we’re dealing with the Delta variant now. From exposure to a positive PCR test, the range is 3-5 days with a peak at 3.71 days in a noted study. And of course with this novel variant, the viral loads are much higher – some 2x higher as the previous variants.

          • There are only two studies out there for incubation time on the delta variant. A CCDC study cites a range of of 3.9-5.0 days (95% CI). Mean is 4.4 and median is 4. (“Transmission Dynamics of an Outbreak of the COVID-19 Delta Variant B.1.617.2 — Guangdong Province, China, May–June 2021”) A separate pre-print article (“Transmission dynamics and epidemiological characteristics of Delta variant infections in China”) cited the mean for incubation as 5.8 days. Both of these estimates are within the range of estimates for all other variants. So generalizing to 5 days gets the point across.

          • No problem Citizen, I was citing above the same group’s data (Guangdong Province group) that was posted in July on the virological dot org’s site. The article title – Viral infection and transmission in a large well-traced outbreak caused by Delta Sars-Cov-2 variant. In the results section, they do state – “the time window from the exposure to the detection of viruses was peaks at ~3.7 days and presented a higher infectiousness/transmission risk …”

          • By the by Citizen, I reviewed your 2nd cited source and it’s now been published and yes it cites 6.0 days as a median time for diagnosis. However that particular study was not done on the Delta variant. Read the Methods section again; case series was on diagnosed patients … last year (2020) Jan 27 thru Mar 16.

          • The language here is tricky. What that study says is that PCR assays can detect viral loads above a preset level at 3.7 days after exposure. That’s not the incubation period, as the patients in this paper are still asymptomatic at 3.7 days. And this is marginally faster than previous variants of concern for hitting these same thresholds.

            I think there’s a more important revelation in this paper, which smacks of some solid science by the Chinese CDC. Because they have (1) extensive contact tracing data, (2) timely PCR data, and (3) extensive genomic testing in confirmed cases, they were able to show transmission of specific lineages between identified individuals with positive PCR results but no symptoms. This had not previously been proven in any other variant, but was assumed based on incomplete contact traces. No significant studies were done before now because these asymptomatic transmissions of prior variants were considered very small factors.

            Delta has a few specific mutations of concern: L452R which decreases recognition of the virus by the immune system delaying the onset of symptoms, and P681R which significantly increases the speed at which a virus can infect a cell. Delta may legitimately involve asymptomatic transmission. And this would explain the extremely rapid rise in overall COVID cases this time around vs past spikes. The authors here may have shown that asymptomatic transmission is a significant driver in Delta. (They are claiming >50%.)

            Here is the full article (preprint) as published on July 23rd. It’s worth a careful read.

            www[dot]medrxiv[dot]org/content/10.1101/2021.07.07.21260122v2.full-text

          • Yes, I read most of the study. One thing not mentioned or perhaps overlooked is the PCR testing platform itself. Has the sensitivity / specificity of the test increased over time or is it just that the higher viral loads at onset are easily (quicker) detected? Asymptomatic means a positive PCR test by the way. If you want to broaden your perspective on things, look into the Lambda variant that originated in Peru last summer with some current cases now in Texas and startups in Cali. Why? There’s speculation that the L- variant has 2 mutations that gives it the ability to evade vaccines.

          • Another good point (or question) that was raised on the medRxiv site, just below the reference points in the comment section, in the “first” version of the paper – so click there, was the viral loads and whether the subjects were vaccinated or not. This needs to be addressed by the authors.