Dr. Janet Memark District Health Director for Cobb & Douglas Public Health distributed the following update to Cobb and Douglas County communities:
Good afternoon Cobb and Douglas counties,
We have a lot of information packed into our newsletter today, so please go to our website at cobbanddouglaspublichealth.org for more information.
Let’s start off with COVID-19. It seems like we have been in this most recent surge now for months fueled by the BA.2, then BA.4 and BA.5 variants. BA.5 now accounts for 86% of the subvariants that are circulating. We have a lot of circulating virus right now, we continue to be in high transmission in both counties, and I’m sure you know many folks who have contracted it. Although most folks are doing ok after being infected, we did see an increase in hospitalizations and deaths. What is interesting though is that the vaccinated who have received their booster shots seem to be the most protected of all. Great evidence for getting your booster shot or shots.
We are pleased to announce that in partnership with DPH, we are offering COVID-19 PCR testing at kiosks placed at two locations in our district; the Douglas County Fire Department Headquarters, located at 12501 Veterans Memorial Highway, and at the Riverside Epicenter, located at 135 Riverside Parkway. These kiosks offer access to free COVID-19 testing 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
For those of you who were not big fans of the new mRNA technology and were awaiting a vaccine using more traditional technology, your wait is over. We will now be offering the Novavax vaccine, which uses more traditional methods of vaccine development. Please check our website for details.
Let’s move on to Monkeypox now. I know that many of you have heard about it in the news. There are almost 27,000 cases worldwide. There are over 7,000 cases in the U.S. and 544 in Georgia. Currently, we have 58 cases in Cobb and Douglas counties. This Monkeypox outbreak has been designated a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organization and the United States has just declared a Public Health Emergency.
It is identified by painful blisters or scabbed lesions, often accompanied by fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, headache, fever, backache, and chills. One of the biggest risk factors is having had contact with someone with Monkeypox. Although at this time, the most affected people are men who have had sex with men and more than two partners in 14 days, it is very important to understand that this is not a traditional sexually transmitted illness. Before this outbreak, it was spread through person-to-person contact and contact with animals. One of the most important ways to spread it is through contact with lesions, and those can occur anywhere-legs, arms, face, etc. This is one of the reasons that is very important to contain this virus.
Commercial testing is now available through doctor offices and urgent care. The health department also has some limited appointments, as well. This week, Cobb & Douglas Public Health has also begun to offer the Monkeypox vaccine to high-risk individuals. Please go to our website to register for an appointment.
In this ever-changing public health landscape, there is a lot of information coming in rapidly. Please stay tuned, and we will try to keep you as informed as possible.
Thanks so much and stay safe.
Janet Pak Memark M.D., M.P.H, F.A.C.P.
District Health Director
District 3-1: Cobb & Douglas Public Health