July 17, 2022–1:05 p.m.
COVID-19 cases have slowly been rising in recent weeks.
All Northwest Georgia counties, including Floyd, Bartow, Gordon, Polk, and Chattooga, are now considered counties with high transmission indicators.
According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, high transmission means a county has had more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents and a positivity rate of over 10% in the last two weeks. “We do have a few people in our hospitals on ventilators, unfortunately,” said Dr. Voccio, health director for the 10-county
Georgia Department of Public Health Northwest District. “We are seeing numbers increasing, which is very worrisome. Most patients are not acutely ill, but like I just said, a few are ventilated in the ICU. Almost all of these cases are what’s called BA .5.”
Dr. Voccio said that the BA .5 variant is much more transmissible than the other variants, but does not appear to be more deadly.
He added that the FDA has approved a new Novavax vaccine, which will go before the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices this week.
The Novavax vaccine is effective against both the BA .4 and BA .5 variants.
“It’s very similar to the shingles vaccine,” he said. “It’s not an mRNA vaccine like the Pfizer or the Moderna. It’s a spike protein vaccine for those 18 years of age or older. It’s a two-shot vaccine. It appears in the 26,000 people it was tested on, it was over 90% effective in preventing severe disease or hospitalization. In people over the age of 65, it was 78% effective.”
Voccio stressed that the best way to protect yourself from becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 is to get the vaccine.