Morning COVID update for Cobb County: January 2

image of COVID-19 virus showing coronas with labels depicting each partThis illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically. (public domain --provided by the CDC)

Here’s our update report on COVID in Georgia and in Cobb County for January.

The CDC County View Data Tracker, which gives possibly the most succinct and user-friendly view of COVID-19 numbers at the county level will not update over the weekend, and will resume on January 3, 2022.

Also, the Daily Status Report from the Georgia Department of Public Health, which gives the most comprehensive look at Georgia’s COVID status, does not update on weekends.

So each weekend we are going to use Saturday’s update to highlight the Friday afternoon report from the Georgia Department of Public Health, and Sunday’s update to feature general developments on the COVID front from the previous week.

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Among the most significant general updates of the week was an announcement from the Georgia Department of Public Health that the Merck and Pfizer oral antiviral treatments are being allocated to retail pharmacies in Georgia.

Here is the GDPH press release, reprinted below:

Atlanta – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is announcing the allocation of Merck and Pfizer oral antiviral treatments for COVID-19 to select retail pharmacies in Georgia. Initial supply of Molnupiravir and Paxlovid™from the federal government is very limited. DPH anticipates additional allocations in the coming weeks as production increases.

Per guidance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), initial allocations were made to federal pharmacy partners. DPH has partnered with Walmart, Walgreens, and Good Neighbor Pharmacy Group (a group of small independent pharmacies) to ensure coverage across the state. Pharmacies currently allocated treatments can be found on the DPH website at https://dph.georgia.gov/dph-covid-19-guidance.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization for molnupirvar by Merck and an emergency use authorization for Paxlovid™ by Pfizer as oral antiviral treatments of COVID-19. Early studies indicate these treatments may reduce severe outcomes from COVID-19 including hospitalization or death. The antivirals are recommended for treatment of individuals who are at high risk for severe COVID-19 or have underlying medical conditions. Both drugs require a prescription and should be initiated as soon as possible after diagnosis of COVID-19 and within five days of symptom onset. 

While antivirals may help treat COVID-19, vaccination is the best prevention against COVID infection. Georgians aged 5 and older are eligible for vaccination. Georgians 16 and older are eligible for boosters six months after completing their primary vaccine series of either Moderna or Pfizer (only Pfizer is authorized for booster doses in 16- and 17- year-olds) and two months after their J&J vaccine. To find a COVID vaccination location, visit https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-vaccine.

Basic prevention measures should also be followed to help prevent further spread of COVID and mitigate outbreaks of infection, especially in public settings: wear a mask, physically distance, and wash your hands frequently with soap and water.

In other news from the GDPH, the department made an appeal to people to not go to hospital emergency departments for COVID testing due to the rising strain on hospital resources.

Here is that press release reprinted below:

Atlanta – To help keep hospital emergency departments open to treat medical emergencies, individuals seeking COVID testing should not go to hospital emergency departments, unless they are experiencing severe COVID-19 symptoms requiring urgent medical attention. Asymptomatic individuals or individuals with mild symptoms should find testing sites other than hospital emergency departments.

COVID-19 testing locations are available throughout Georgia and can be found on the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) website at https://dph.georgia.gov/covidtesting. We are working with our lab partners to expand testing hours and add testing sites, however, lines will continue to be long as thousands of Georgians want to get tested.

To help alleviate delays at testing sites, it is critical that people register BEFOREgoing to a DPH test site. Online registration (https://dph.georgia.gov/covidtesting) will help alleviate back-ups at test sites and free up staff to do more testing if they aren’t doing registration paperwork. 

COVID vaccination is available statewide and is our best tool for ending this pandemic and reducing the overwhelming strain on the healthcare system and healthcare providers. To find a COVID vaccination location, visit https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-vaccine. Georgians aged 5 and older are eligible for vaccination. Georgians 16 and older are eligible for boosters six months after completing their primary vaccine series of either Moderna or Pfizer (only Pfizer is authorized for booster doses in 16- and 17- year-olds) and two months after their J&J vaccine.

Basic prevention measures should also be followed to help prevent further spread of COVID and mitigate outbreaks of infection, especially in public settings: wear a mask, physically distance, and wash your hands frequently with soap and water.

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