BERNARD COLUMN: Covid-19 in Troup is still not under control

Published 11:30 am Thursday, December 23, 2021

By Jack Bernard

“I don’t want the government telling me what to do,”- Georgia conservative regarding vaccines

I asked an acquaintance, a nice person who appears bright, why they had not been vaccinated. I got the above worrisome response. The government has not mandated vaccines for the general public, even though they have been available for quite some time, almost a year. But totally voluntary measures are working poorly because, paradoxically, people like the one above will not get vaccinated on a voluntary basis.

Another DPH (health department) report has been issued about Covid-19 in District 4. The results for the “Thanksgiving” two-week period ending 11-26-21 are very concerning, illustrating that the pandemic is nowhere near being under control locally. And it shows that, inexplicably despite a consensus in the medical community on the need for vaccinations, most D-4 residents are still not vaccinated. This lack of action is causing the virus to continue to spread.

The national standard for vaccinations is 75% fully vaccinated. This figure has been established by CDC MDs and other medical professionals to provide us with the level of vaccination needed to halt the spread of the pandemic, which is still far from under control locally, statewide and nationally despite vaccines being available on a voluntary basis for nearly a year. 

Almost two years into the pandemic, Troup is at a dismal 36% fully vaccinated. With an average of 40% fully vaccinated in the region, none of the counties in D-4 meet that standard. Inexplicably after so much time has passed since the beginning of the Covid 19 vaccinations early last year, many of our counties are still very far away from the 75% goal. And the truth is that without an awakening as to the healthcare necessity for vaccinations which would lead to behavioral changes, there is little hope in sight that completely voluntary measures will work.

Thus far, we have had 133,575 cases of Covid-19 in D-4, with 2,272 deaths. Many others who survived are experiencing or have experienced the lasting effects of long-term Covid, although local figures are not available.

The lowest percentage in D-4 is a dismal 29% in rural Heard. But the region’s biggest counties also have an unacceptable level of “full” vaccinations- only a meager 45% in Coweta and 44% in Henry.

Only one county, Fayette with 61%, is even over 50% fully vaccinated much less at the 75% target.

With such low rates of vaccination, we can expect Covid-19 to continue to ravage our area. To that point, comparing one period to the other, the actual number of people getting Covid in a two-week period has gone up in nine out of the twelve D-4 counties. Currently the region’s highest transmission level is in heavily populated Coweta, which is listed as “substantial” regarding current risk of pandemic spread (defined as greater than 101 cases per 100K). 

Testing positivity rates (i. e. the proportion of positive Covid tests) is still over the national goal of 5% in several counties including Butts, Carroll, Lamar, and Spalding. Disturbingly, all of them were below 5% for the prior two weeks ending 11-12-21. Note- Troup is at 3.1%, but due to the low vaccination rate, that may change rapidly over the holidays.

What can be done?

It’s simple, let’s all just stop playing politics with medicine. And that includes conservative federal court judges who have decided to block the Biden administrations vaccine mandates for companies doing business with the government.

Surveys show that conservatives are resisting the call to get vaccinated. But Trump and his family got the shots. So, conservative Americans and Troup County residents, just go get the two initial shots. If you have already had them, get the booster shot.

But don’t just take my word for it. Or the word of some of the non-medical talking heads on TV and on social media.

Speak with your physician and see what he/she has to say. Here’s a hint, virtually all of them are vaccinated, including the two MDs in my family.