Cobb’s COVID rate skyrockets amid confusing official guidelines

coronavirus image -- a white sphere with red corona spikes emanating outwardThis illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. (public domain image)

The already high rate of community transmission in Cobb County continues to skyrocket, amid disconnect between CDC recommendations and guidelines from the Cobb County School District and the Georgia Department of Public Health.

According to the latest figures posted on the Cobb & Douglas Public Health website, the county has a 14-day case rate of 358 cases per 100,000 of population, more than three and a half times the 100 cases per 100,000 that is recognized as the threshold of high community transmission. Adjacent Douglas County has 464 cases per 100,000.

In May of this year Dr. Janet Memark, District Health Director for Cobb & Douglas Public Health gave a largely optimistic report in an email newsletter. The 14-day cases rate was declining and the number of vaccinated residents was increasing.

But by mid-July the numbers had crept back to to 75 cases per 100,000, and by August 1 we had blown past the high transmission rate, with the hospitalizations and death almost exclusively among the unvaccinated.

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School system protocols

While the rate continues to climb, the Cobb County School District has released two different sets of COVID-19 protocols within the first week of school class opening.

There is a disconnected and unclear chain of guidance with respect to COVID-19 running from the CCSD to the Georgia Department of Health to the Centers for Disease Control.

The CCSD states in the introduction to their new guidelines “the importance of in-person learning and of working with the Cobb & Douglas Public Health Department.”

Cobb & Douglas Health is a local branch of the Georgia Department of Public Health.

On the most easily located guidance for school districts on the Georgia Department of Public Health, found on their COVID-19 Guidance page there is only a link to the CDC guidelines.

The CDC guidelines simply state:

Given new evidence on the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant, CDC has updated the guidance for fully vaccinated people. CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. Children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with layered prevention strategies in place.

Going back to the beginning of the chain of recommendations, the CDC recommendations for universal indoor masking in schools, linked to by the Georgia Department of Public Health, is not followed by the COVID-19 guidelines from the Cobb County School District.

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