The state of Georgia on Friday passed a grim milestone in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, registering 20,041 confirmed COVID deaths.
The Georgia Department of Public Health reported the number at 3 p.m. Sept. 3, 2021.
"It is tragic but not surprising that we have surpassed this grim milestone of 20,000 COVID deaths in our state,” said Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen E. Toomey. “Ninety-seven percent of COVID deaths since we’ve had vaccine are in unvaccinated individuals. These deaths are preventable.”
Toomey and other DPH officials continue to push vaccination as a way to stem the spread of the virus.
"COVID vaccines are safe and effective at protecting against COVID-19 infections," said a statement from DPH. "COVID vaccines also help prevent severe illness and death if an individual does get sick. The vaccines also reduce the risk of people spreading the virus that causes COVID-19."
To date, 9.79 million doses of COVID vaccine have been administered in Georgia, which translates to 51% of the eligible population receiving at least one dose; 44% of Georgians are fully vaccinated.
The current surge in COVID cases in Georgia is driven by the delta variant, which health officials say is more transmissible than the original SARS-CoV-2.
DPH officials also said COVID testing is recommended immediately for anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Additionally, individuals who have had a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be tested, even if they are fully vaccinated. People who are fully vaccinated should get tested 3-5 days after exposure. Unvaccinated individuals should quarantine and be tested immediately after being identified, and, if negative, tested again in 5–7 days after last exposure. Because hospital emergency departments are over capacity in most parts of the state, residents are asked not to go to hospital emergency rooms for COIVD testing.