The 10-county Northeast Health District added 5,078 new cases of COVID-19 in the last seven days, and 34 confirmed deaths from the disease.
Seven of the confirmed deaths were in Oconee County, and three were in Clarke County.
Last week, the District had added 17 confirmed deaths from the disease.
The average number of added cases per day in the last seven days in the Northeast Health District was 725.4, compared with 917.4 in the seven days ending on Jan. 21.
Oconee County added 433 cases on Friday, compared with 518 new cases in week ending on Jan. 21.
Clarke County added 1,196 new cases in the seven days ending on Friday, compared with 1,660 new cases in the week ending on Jan. 21.
The seven-day rolling average of added cases in Oconee County on Friday per 100,000 population was 143.5, and it was 133.2 in Clarke County.
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On Jan. 21, those rolling averages had been 180.8 in Oconee County and 187.0 in Clarke County.
The unstandardized rolling average of added cases in Oconee County on Friday was 60.0 compared with 77.1 on Friday of last week.
In Clarke County, the unstandardized seven-day rolling average of added cases on Friday was 171.4, compared with 242.0 on Friday of last week.
The Oconee County confirmed death from COVID-19 were of a 79-year-old male, an 80-year-old female, an 84-year-old male, and 85-year-old male, an 86-year-old male, a 90-plus-year-old male, and a 90-plus-year-old female.
None of the seven is listed as having had a chronic condition.
The Clarke County confirmed COVID-19 deaths were of 59-year-old female, a 76-year-old male, and a 79-year-old female, all without a chronic condition.
Oconee County now has 83 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 going back to the beginning of 2020, or 198.6 per 100,000 population, and Clarke County has 188, or 146.1 per 100,000.
The remaining 24 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the Northeast Health District in the last seven days were in Barrow (9), Elbert (2), Greene (1), Jackson (4), Morgan (1), and Walton (7) counties.
The Northeast Health District now has recorded 1,369 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.
The Northeast Health District had 128 “probable” deaths from COVID-19 on Friday, up from 126 a week ago. Both of the added “probable” deaths were in Walton County.
Oconee County Schools
As of the end of classes on Thursday, Oconee County Schools had recorded 652 cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the school year on Aug. 4, based on data released by the schools in response to open records requests filed by a group of parents.
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The 652 cases are an increase of 48 from Thursday of last week. Last Thursday Oconee County Schools had added 84 cases from the week before.
Since the beginning of the school on Jan. 4 year, Oconee County Schools has added 224 cases. It had recorded 428 cases in all of the first half of the school year through Dec. 28.
The parents are reporting the data released to them as a result of the open records requests on the Safety First Facebook page, but they also have released the data to me for my own analysis.
Of the 48 added cases in the last week, 14 are staff members, including teachers, or more than a quarter, and the remaining 34 are students.
Only a little more than one in 10 (11 percent) of the total full-time staff (including faculty) and students at Oconee County Schools are staff.
All but three of the staff cases are at primary or elementary schools.
The analysis shows that the student cases are disproportionally at the lower grades as well.
Of the 34 student cases, 20, or more than half, are at the elementary level, five are at the two middle schools, and nine are at the two high schools.
Based on October enrollment figures, 44.0 percent of the students in Oconee County Schools are in the elementary school grades, 23.3 percent are at the elementary school level, and 32.7 percent are in the two high schools.
Active Cases Counted
Oconee County Schools releases to the public only the number of Active Cases in the schools at the end of the class week.
In its report on Friday, Oconee County Schools reported 20 Active COVID-19 Cases, down from 32 the week earlier.
On Dec 27, 2021, the CDC shortened the recommended quarantine period from 10 to five days, making comparisons with data from last year of little value.
Based on the records released to parents who filed the open records request, Oconee County Schools is using an even shorter period between the recorded date of positive test results and the return date to school.
In the data released to the parents, Oconee County Schools records the Date of Positive Test Result and the Return Date. After the return date, a case is stricken through, or marked as Inactive.
In the seven days from Friday of last week through Thursday of this week, Oconee County Schools declared Inactive 25 students and staff who had tested positive earlier.
Based on those 25 records, 13 had a gap of fewer than days five days between the positive test and the date the student or staff returned to school.
OCS Offers Explanation
On Jan. 25, Anisa Sullivan Jimenez, Director of Communication for Oconee County Schools, sent me an unsolicited email saying that the schools are not using the Date of Positive Result but rather the first day of symptoms in determining when a student or staff can return to school.
That date does not appear in the data file released to parents, which is supposed to be the full records of COVID at Oconee County Schools.
“The beginning of a five-day period is the first day of symptoms,” Jimenez wrote. “therefore, if an individual reports a positive test and returns to school two days later, it is because it has been five or more days since symptoms began.”
The records released to parents on Friday also contained two cases that are hard to understand.
In one case involving a third-grade student, the case had a Timestamp of 16:19:25 on Jan. 21 for recording of the case, with a Date of Positive Result marked Jan. 21 as well. But the student’s Return Date is not until Jan. 31. The student has not been marked as inactive.
In another case involving a 10th grade student, the Timestamp is 7:32:27 on Jan. 22, with a Date of Positive Result of Jan. 21, and a Return Date of Jan. 21. The student remains recorded as Active.
Oconee County Death From COVID
The Department of Public Heath reported prior to my Jan. 21 report the confirmed death from COVID-19 in Oconee County of a White, 56-year-old female without a chronic condition. The date of the death was Jan. 7, according to the records.
Atlanta’s WSB-TV, in a Jan. 24 story, reported that it had confirmed more than 60 Georgia teachers and school staff members who had died of COVID-19 since the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year in July.
Included in the story was the Jan. 7 death of Connie Reynold, 56, of Oconee County.
Reynolds is identified in the WSB story as a cafeteria manager at Malcom Bridge Elementary School.
“(M)y sister Connie passed away today, from covid,” according to the comment.
The original post is at 11:08 p.m. on Jan. 7.
Oconee County Schools, on its website, lists Connie Reynolds as the School Nutrition Contact at Malcom Bridge Elementary School.
Her name also appears in a web search heading as the Cafeteria Manager for School Nutrition Staff at Malcom Bridge Elementary School, but the page linked to that heading lists only two cafeteria works and not Reynolds. No cafeteria manager is listed.
Reynolds is not listed in the electronic Oconee County Schools Directory at present.
(Director of Communication Jimenez has told me she will not respond to questions from me about Oconee County Schools.)
School Age Data, Test Positivity Rates
Oconee County added 86 cases among those aged 5 to 17 in the week ending at the beginning of the day on Jan. 27, according to the School Aged COVID-19 Surveillance Data released by the Department of Public Health on Friday.
The report showed an addition of 420 cases across all age groups in the last week, with 19 of them for children under five years of age, 32 for persons 18 to 22, and 284 for those persons 23 years old and older.
The percentages of added cases that were for persons 5 to 17 years old was 20.2 on Jan. 27, compared with 23.8 percent a week earlier.
The percentage of cases for those 0 to 4 years old also decreased, to 4.5 percent from 7.2 percent.
These cases are based on results of the rapid antigen and molecular tests.
In Oconee County, the seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate of the more robust molecular PCR test for COVID-19 was 26.5 percent on Friday, down from the 45.8 on Friday of last week. The PCR test is considered to be the more reliable of the tests.
In Clarke County on Friday, the seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate of PCR tests was 24.3 percent on Friday, down from 35.7 on Friday of last week.
University, Hospital Reports
The University of Georgia on Wednesday, in its COVID-19 Health and Exposure Updates, reported 919 positive COVID-19 tests, down from 1,003 in the revised estimate from the previous week.
The report on Wednesday covered the period of Jan. 17 to 23.
The University reported that 1,830 walk-in tests were performed on individuals by the University Health Center in the week ending on Jan. 23. The University resumed session on Jan. 10.
The positivity rate for the walk-in tests performed in the week ending on Jan. 23 was 13.6percent, down from the 14.7 percent reported in the week ending Jan. 16.
The Georgia Hospital Association and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency reported on Friday that the number of COVID-19 patients at area hospitals was 230, down from 245 on Jan. 21.
The number of ICU beds in use was 74, the same as last Friday, and the number of adult ventilators in use was 53, up from 48 a week earlier.
The listed number of available ICU beds at area hospitals is 70.
According to the raw data behind the Department of Public Health Vaccine Distribution Dashboard for Friday, 48.2 percent of the residents of the Northeast Health District had at least one dose of a vaccine and 44.5 percent were fully vaccinated.
Those percentages were changed just slightly from a week ago, when 48.0 percent of the residents of the District had at least one dose of the vaccine and 44.4 percent were fully vaccinated.
In Oconee County, 60.4 percent of the population has at least one dose in Friday’s report, and 56.8 percent is fully vaccinated. Those figures had been 60.3 percent and 56.6 percent a week ago.
In Clarke County, 50.9 percent of the population has as least one dose and 47.2 percent is fully vaccinated. Those figures were 50.8 percent and 47.0 percent last week.
In the Northeast Health District as a whole, 18.6 percent of the population has received a booster. Those figures are 26.6 percent in Oconee County and 22.0 percent in Clarke County.
Of those who are fully vaccinated, 41.8 percent in the District have received a booster. Those figures are 46.6 percent in Oconee County and 46.7 percent in Clarke County.
Last week, of those who are fully vaccinated in the Northeast Heath District, 41.0 percent had received a booster. Those figures were 45.9 percent in Oconee County and 45.9 percent in Clarke County.
Oconee County leads the Northeast Health District in the percentage of the population with at least one dose, the percentage fully vaccinated, and the percentage with a booster.
The percentages reported here differ from those on the Vaccine Dashboard because the Department of Public Health uses old projections--and lower numbers--for the populations of the counties.