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Thank God for Mississippi and Alabama

By Jack Bernard
Bernard is a retired corporate executive

Thank God for Mississippi and Alabama ‘cause if it weren’t for them, Georgia would be last in everything.”-an old Georgia saying

As of 3-8-21, we are officially worse than both states in regard to our rate of COVID-19 cases per capita (7 day rolling average). Georgia has a 7-day rate of 153 cases per hundred thousand residents while the national average is 124. But 5 other states are doing an even poorer job of containing COVID (https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/national/coronavirus-us-cases-deaths/).

But it gets worse. With only a meager 13% having gotten their first COVID-19 shot, Georgia is doing more poorly than all other states in regard to initial vaccinations. Plus, Georgia and a few others share the dubious honor of being the worst regarding supplying residents with 2 shots (8%).

This situation is not simply due to Georgia’s supply of vaccines. We have only used 69% of our supply while the US average is 78%.

But, taken in a broader sense, the news isn’t all bad. COVID infections have been steadily going down, both for Troup County, the state and the nation. Let’s look at Troup, which has had two “waves” of COVID.

June 23rd was the first wave peak for Troup, with a 7-day average of 53 cases. The second wave peaked on January 14th, with 52 cases per day (7-day average). Then, daily cases started going down.

As of today, Troup has only had 137 over the last 2 weeks…versus 116 on a single day, June 23rd. Cases per 100k for Troup is 7964 versus 7653 for Georgia, so it’s roughly comparable. And that’s a positive trend because at one time COVID was worse in Troup than anywhere in Georgia, which is now running about 10% higher than Troup on a weekly per capita basis.

Why Georgia has been behind other states is hard to determine. There are a multitude of reasons. Let’s start with the political considerations. Nationally, Trump downplayed the severity of the virus for a year before he departed for Mir a Lago. Every week, we were “about to turn the corner,” but never did. 

Supporters of Trump, people like Governor Brian Kemp, mimicked his pronouncements. Kemp said many times that our economy was more important than taking stronger measures to control the spread of COVID. Just be patient.

Further, both Trump and Congress failed to adequately fund state and local public health departments. And the situation was worse at the State level. Kemp and our legislature knew that the Georgia Department of Public Health was being strained in 2020 due to increased workload with inadequate staffing. However, they received no new funding.  In fact, they were asked to reduce their funding request. And 2021 continues this situation, with more demands placed on already overworked employees who are told to handle vaccinations as well as fulfill their normal duties.