Sunday, August 20, 2023–4:14 p.m.
-Georgia Department of Public Health-
While the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is seeing an uptick in new COVID cases and hospitalizations related to COVID, the numbers remain relatively low, compared to the state’s peak in January 2022 or even summer COVID increases in previous years.
The increases DPH is currently seeing are likely a combination of a new COVID variant, people not prioritizing prevention measures, more summer travel and people at large gatherings, and some waning of immunity from vaccination or prior infection.
The new variant, EG.5, which has been nicknamed “Eris,” is the dominant COVID variant spreading in the U.S. It is responsible for about 17% of new COVID cases in the country and about 16% of new cases in Georgia. Early data indicates Eris may be more easily transmissible than some other variants, but it does not appear to cause more severe disease. The CDC says the current COVID vaccine is effective against Eris, and Eris infections are picked up by COVID tests.
Vaccination remains the best protection against COVID and will help prevent serious complications and hospitalization if you do get sick. In general, everyone 6 months and older should be vaccinated for COVID. You can find specific information about vaccine recommendations by age at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/stay-up-to-date.html#everyone-6-and-older. You can schedule a vaccine at https://gta-vras.powerappsportals.us/en-US/.
In addition to staying up to date on vaccinations, get tested for COVID if you have symptoms. COVID tests are widely available over the counter, at health departments and kiosks statewide. There are several effective treatments for COVID, so contact your healthcare provider right away if you test positive. Treatment must be started within a few days after you first develop symptoms to be effective.
Basic prevention measures should be followed to help prevent further spread of COVID and mitigate outbreaks of infection – covering your coughs, sneezing into your elbow, throwing away used tissues, washing your hands frequently with soap and water, and staying home if you’re sick.
It is important to stay informed about COVID but be sure you get your information from reliable sources such as DPH https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19, the CDC https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html, or your healthcare provider.
DPH will continue to closely monitor COVID data and provide updates as needed.