County COVID cases dip as vaccination rate climbs

This chart shows the status of COVID-19 cases in Tanner Health System facilities as of Tuesday.

For the first time in weeks, COVID hospitalizations in Carroll County have decreased over the past week, while vaccination rates continue to climb.

But the latest information released by Tanner Health System shows unvaccinated people continue to strain the resources of west Georgia’s health professionals, representing most of the people hospitalized and 91% of the 161 patients who have died of COVID-related causes since February.

According to information released Wednesday, 78 patients were being treated for COVID in Tanner’s four area hospitals, a 42% decrease over the past week, when 111 COVID patients were recorded on Sept. 15.

The number of COVID patients had been steadily climbing each week since July 10.

These patients joined the other patients being treated for various non-COVID related reasons, pushing the occupancy of the Tanner Health Centers in Carrollton and Villa Rica above 100%.

Villa Rica, with 32 patients this week, remains the most impacted with 163% occupancy, according to Tanner’s information. Carrollton has 54 patients, 19 fewer than last week, but leaving the Dixie Street hospital at 134% occupancy.

Meanwhile, there were four patients at Higgins General Hospital in Bremen and no patients at Tanner’s facility in Wedowee, Alabama.

Those who remain unvaccinated — despite the wide availability of free vaccines — remain the highest number of COVID-19 patients now being treated. Only three COVID-19 patients (4%) within the hospital system have been vaccinated, while 81% of the COVID-19 patients were unvaccinated. None of the patients were partially vaccinated with one dose of the two-dose vaccines.

Not every COVID-19 patient must be hospitalized, but the most serious do. And the most acutely ill COVID-19 patient must be placed on a ventilator to assist their breathing.

There are currently 33 ventilators in use at Tanner facilities, according to the report. COVID-19 patients are on 21 of the units, and only one of them is vaccinated.

Vaccinations continue to prove effective against COVID-19 leading to death, according to the figures.

There have been 161 deaths attributed to COVID-19 at Tanner since February, when the vaccines became widely available. Of those, there were 11 patients who had been vaccinated and three who had been partially vaccinated. That means that 91% of those COVID-19 who have died were not vaccinated.

But the vaccination rate for Carroll County has continued to increase since health officials first began sounding the alarm about the Delta variant, a more aggressive and contagious mutation of the original virus that entered the county last year.

The Georgia Department of Public Health was reporting Wednesday that 2,161 more people had been vaccinated than the same time last week. That pushes the number of people who have received at least one dose of the vaccines to 38%, while there were 33% of the county’s population are now deemed fully vaccinated.

That means that slightly less than two thirds of the county’s residents have not had any vaccination at all.