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Monday October 3rd, 2022 8:15PM

Case numbers are down, but Hall County lags behind state in demand for COVID vaccine

By B.J. Williams Assistant News Director

The rolling average of COVID cases in Hall County is way down, hospitalizations for the virus also continue to trend downward, but public health officials said Tuesday county residents still need to do a better job of getting vaccinated.

Healthcare providers shared the good news - and their concerns - at another virtual community update coordinated by the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce. It was the fourteenth such forum sponsored by Chamber officials.

Melissa Tymchuk, Chief of Staff to the President & CEO at Northeast Georgia Health System, said the seven-day rolling average rate for positive coronavirus cases in the county had dropped to 2.5%. Dr. John Delzell, the COVID incident commander for NGHS, told participants COVID hospitalizations had held steady between 30 and 50 over the last several weeks; Tuesday's number was 23, the lowest since the hospital system began publicly releasing patient data related to the pandemic. Those low numbers have allowed NGHS facilities to relax rules for hospital visitors with more changes coming later this week. 

Still, there was some concern expressed about the rate of vaccination in the county.

Dr. Zachary Taylor with District 2 Public Health said the total number of vaccines distributed to Hall County residents numbered 105,621.

"[To date] 59,210 people have received at least one dose - that's 30% of the population," Taylor said. "And 49,173 have been fully vaccinated. That's 25% of the population."

The average of those fully vaccinated statewide is 31%, according to data on the Georgia Department of Public Health vaccine dashboard. 

Taylor said the gap in vaccination rates among whites and Blacks in Hall County is closing - 26% of whites have received one vaccine dose compared to 25.6% for Blacks. Taylor is concerned, however, about the low numbers of Latinos who have been vaccinated against the virus.

"We still have a long way to go with our Latino population," Taylor said. "[In] our non-Hispanic population, 32% have received at least one dose, and only 15% of our Latino population [has]."

With those numbers in mind, The Longstreet Clinic, with the help of other healthcare partners, has begun offering vaccine clinics for businesses in the area. The goal is to make it as convenient as possible for people to get vaccinated, and if they don't have to take time off from work to go to an off-site clinic, then they may be more willing to get a shot, according to Longstreet Clinic COO Loren Funk.

"Really, over the last year, if there's anything we have learned, we've learned to be flexible," Funk said. "That's why we're pushing for employers [to understand] that we're more than happy to provide on-site clinics for your employees and their families."

There's no size limit when it comes to the on-site clinics, although staff at Good News Clinics has often set up the clinics at smaller businesses, while Longstreet Clinic handles the job at larger businesses. 

For more information on COVID vaccine availability, follow this link to a Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce resource page. 

Follow this link for the COVID resource page on AccessWDUN. 

 

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News
  • Associated Tags: Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, NGHS, District 2 Public Health , coronavirus pandemic , COVID-19 vaccine , COVID hospitalizations , Longstreet Clinic , vaccine clinics
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