Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are still high, but ventilators and oxygen supply are small as the increase caused by the highly contagious variant of Delta continues.
Director of the Public Health Department of the Northwest District dr. Gary Voccio described in a telephone conversation the “desperate” situation for hospitals in the area urging people to get vaccinated.
“Hospitals currently have a huge number of COVID cases,” Voccio said. “This morning, three of our hospitals had patients in ambulances on respirators waiting to be admitted. One of our hospitals in northwest Georgia had to procure additional ventilator supplies from (the Georgian Emergency Management Agency). Oxygen is in short supply and in all our hospitals it is currently becoming very desperate. ”
According to the Floyd County Emergency Agency, there were 107 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases at Floyd Medical Center on Monday, Sept. 13, while 94 confirmed cases were registered at Redmond Regional Medical Center. Two people in Redmond were still waiting for the test results.
Voccio said regularly scheduled surgical cases must be canceled due to the steady rise in COVID.
“It’s really very, very worrying for our hospitals,” Voccio said. “People should be very worried.”
Public health officials are encouraging anyone who can be vaccinated to do so. Some who have had COVID-19 believe they have developed antibodies that provide the same protection as vaccination.
In response, Voccio said, although developed antibodies may offer some protection, the number of antibodies varies from person to person, and the vaccine remains the most effective form of protection.
“That second response to the vaccine makes your immune system … much stronger,” Voccio said. “Vaccines offer significant protection even against the Delta variant.”
Voccio said that he recommends that unvaccinated people who fully recover from COVID-19 receive the vaccine two weeks after the symptoms disappear.
“We thought we should have waited a few months with this pandemic at first, but now it’s withdrawn,” Voccio said. “Two weeks is a good time frame for vaccination just because your immune response will be very, very strong.”
Extensive antibody research has shown that especially the elderly do not have almost the same antibody response as younger people, he said, and strongly appealed to people over the age of 60 to be vaccinated.
Voccio added that the viral load for the Delta variant is 1,000 times higher than the alpha strain COVID-19.
In case an individual becomes infected with COVID a second time, Voccio said those who are vaccinated will have much fewer symptoms in a shorter period of time and have a lower risk of hospitalization or death.
“Your innate immune response will help, but now we know clearly that vaccines make your symptoms shorter, you won’t be so transmissible or contagious if you’re vaccinated.”
When is the peak?
According to the latest CDC modeling projections, COVID-19 cases are likely to increase in northwestern Georgia in 10-14 days.
“The CDC says in the next 10 days, maybe two weeks where we will settle, and then after that we will come down from the plateau in most of northwestern Georgia,” Voccio said. “For some reason, there are certain counties that will flatten out but won’t really start descending in the next few weeks, but most of our counties in northwest Georgia will see a drop in cases.”
Voccio said that the holiday season is approaching, worrying because of the large family gatherings.
“Many people indoors, primarily if not vaccinated, will spread this contagious variant of the Delta,” Voccio said. “If you are vaccinated, it is much safer, so get vaccinated, but if you are not vaccinated with a lot of people indoors in the coldest months without a mask or physical distancing, you are at great risk. You are 10 times more at risk if you are not vaccinated since hospitalization or death. “
Free COVID-19 testing sites in operation have opened in Bartow, Catoosa and Floyd counties.
The Floyd County testing venue, located at Coosa Fair on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.
The Bartow County test site is open Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the LakePointe Sports Complex in Emerson, and the Catoosa County test site is open Monday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at The Colonnade.