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COVID surge raises concerns about holiday travel

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Worrying numbers show Georgia could be on the edge of yet another COVID surge.

The latest report from the Georgia Department of Public Health shows the state had 3,094 new cases last Friday – the highest number seen in months.

The Peach State’s seven-day new case average has more than doubled in December and the positivity rate is back above 8%.

As of Wednesday, December 22 there were seven new cases of COVID-19 involving Seminole County residents in the last two weeks, according to data from D.P.H. 

There are 3.733 Seminole County residents who are considered fully vaccinated as of Wednesday, December 22, according to the D.P.H.’s online Vaccine Distribution Dashboard. That’s 45 percent of the county’s population. 

The information indicates that 49 percent of the county’s population, or 4,078 residents, have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Since the pandemic began in March 2020, there have been 1,227 cases here based on P.C.R. and antigen positive testing, and 23 county residents have died from the disease caused by the novel Coronavirus, the state public health information shows.

Experts fear the spread of the new Omicron variant could overwhelm hospitals once again.

The rising numbers couldn’t come at a worse time, as millions of Americans prepare to travel for the holidays.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta expects Omicron to be the dominant strain in the U.S. within the next couple of weeks.

The World Health Organization says the Omicron cases are doubling every two to three days.

When it comes to travel plans, health experts say gathering with loved ones should be safe as long as everyone who can be is vaccinated and boosted.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease expert, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that “the real problem” for the U.S. hospital system is that “we have so many people in this country who are eligible to be vaccinated who have not yet been vaccinated.”

“The one thing that’s very clear, and there’s no doubt about this, is its extraordinary capability of spreading, its transmissibility capability. It is just, you know, raging through the world, really,” Fauci said. “And if you look even here in the United States, you have some regions that start off with a few percent of the isolates that are positive, now going up to 30%, 40%, and some places 50%.”

Health officials, including Fauci, also say it’s important to wear a mask in any crowded indoor setting like a plane or in an airport.

Officials recommend getting tested before holiday gathering and say to expect long lines at testing sites.

To schedule an appointment for a COVID vaccine or booster shot, go to the Georgia Department of Public Health’s website or https://vaccinefinder.org/.

The vaccine finder website, vaccines.gov, reports that the free vaccines are available at the Seminole County Health Department and Walgreens Pharmacy in Donalsonville. 

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