Dr. Memark’s latest report on COVID to the BOC

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)

Dr. Janet Memark, District Health Director for Cobb & Douglas Public Health delivered the latest of her regular reports before the Cobb County Board of Commissioners at their meeting Tuesday morning.

She said that while the rate of new cases has dropped from the numbers experienced at the peak of the Delta variant surge, that the rate seems to have reached a plateau in Cobb of between 300 and 400 cases per 100,000 of population over two-week periods, which is still considered high community transmission.

The rate as of publication of this article in 339 per 100,000 of population according to the Cobb & Douglas Health website.

“I know it’s really great to be coming off of this surge,” she said. “But it is not pushed down all the way yet. So we still have to have some kind of prevention just to bring it down a bit more.”

She reported good numbers on the positivity rate, or the rate at which people who are tested turn out to have COVID-19.

“It is about 8.1 percent , which is still over 5 percent, but less than that 10 percent number that makes us very concerned,” Dr. Memark said. “So it is coming down, which is great.”

Deaths from COVID still a concern

“The next slide is a little bit concerning,” she said. “The number of deaths that we have coming in, when you look at numbers across the nation … we hit 2000 deaths in a day.”

“That is very, very high. And so remember, this is a lagging of what we’ve seen from all of the transmission,” she said. “So that has continued to remain high at this point.”

Deaths lag behind surges in cases, since the progression is diagnosis -> hospitalizations -> deaths. So the number of deaths will be the last thing to go down as a pandemic surge plays out.

Hospitalizations falling

“But hospitalizations are much better,” Dr. Memark said. “I saw hospital numbers from the weekend and yesterday, and they’re much better than they were, and so things are getting better in that regard.”

Delta variant hits younger people harder than past variants

Dr. Memark showed a bar chart indicating that children in the 11-17 year old age segment (middle school to high school years) were much likelier to get the Delta variant of COVID than earlier variants.

“And unfortunately, it was kind of a perfect storm: school year starting as well as Delta hitting our community,” she said.

She said that although children handle the disease better than adults, that they take the disease home with them to infect other relatives.

The need for vaccination

She said that one of the things contributing to the drop in new cases of COVID was the increasing number of people in Cobb who are vaccinated. She said 60 percent have one shot, and 55 percent have both doses.

She also repeated that vaccinated individuals have much less chance of being infected with the virus, being hospitalized, and dying.

Dr. Memark showed a slide stating that nonvaccinated people in Georgia were 12 times likelier to get infected, 15 times likelier to be hospitalized, and 17 times likelier to die.