Dr. Memark reports Cobb COVID hospitalizations and deaths almost exclusively among the unvaccinated

Janet Memark speaks at Healthy Start meeting used in article about COVID cases in CobbJanet Memark speaks at Healthy Start meeting (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

Cobb County posted a video report from Dr. Janet Memark, District Health Director for Cobb & Douglas Public Health, in which she reinforced reports from other parts of the country that the recent surge in hospitalizations and deaths due to the rapid spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 is almost exclusively among the unvaccinated, while overall cases are among both the vaccinated and unvaccinated.

In other words, while the vaccines don’t provide 100 percent guarantees that you’ll not become infected with the virus, they give much better protection, with milder symptoms, if you do become infected.

Dr. Memark opens the video by saying, “I didn’t think we would be back here again too soon. But we’re having another bit of a surge right now.”

Cases reach high community transmission level

“We celebrated for a little bit, going below 100 cases per 100,000,” she said. “But we are up to 235 cases for 100,000 since last night, that’s our two week cases.” [Editor’s note: The cases per 100,000 are now up to 267 in the last update since this video was created]

“So that has blown us past high transmission,” she said. “And so today, our numbers are looking even worse. So we’re in some pretty high transmission right now of the COVID virus.”

“And then we also have some higher percentage positive numbers. We’re up to 8.4 percent positive with the tests that are coming in,” said Memark. “We were under 2 percent at one point, so we had low transmission rates and low positive numbers.”

Younger people becoming infected

“And who are these people getting sick?” she asked.

“What we’re seeing right now is … younger folks that are getting sick, and they’re almost exclusively unvaccinated,” she said.

She said the higher numbers are due to the Delta variant, which now accounts for at least 80 percent of the cases.

More than 200 percent more contagious than the original COVID virus

Memark said the the Delta variant is more than 200 percent more transmissible than the original COVID-19 virus.

Hospitalizations and deaths almost exclusively among the unvaccinated

Memark said that breakthrough cases are occurring among vaccinated individuals.

“But your chances of dying or being hospitalized are still extremely rare if you are vaccinated,” she said.

She said that breakthrough cases, where vaccinated individuals test positive for COVID-19, are increasing. But that the increase in hospitalizations due to COVID-19 is still driven by the unvaccinated.

“In Cobb County, we have over 300 percent more hospitalizations for COVID than we had just a few weeks ago,” she said. “And so our hospitals are once again filling up with COVID patients, younger patients (in their) 30s and 40s and 50s. And they are unvaccinated.”

Start of the school year

Dr. Memark said that the best advice for children going back to school is that they follow CDC recommendations and wear their masks.

She said there are a very large number of children returning to school who are ineligible to be vaccinated because they are 12 year old and younger.

“Now, if you had asked me just a month ago, we may have been okay,” she said.

But with the high community transmission, she said, everyone should wear masks.

“I’ve had this discussion with with my kids’ dad and what to do about our unvaccinated child,” she said. “He’s going to go in with the mask.”

Watch the video interview with Dr. Janet Memark