The number of COVID cases in west Georgia rose slightly over the past week, following a three-month surge attributed to the Delta variant of the virus.

At least 14 people died of the illness over the past week, according to information released Tuesday by the Tanner Health System. Almost all the 210 COVID-related deaths within Tanner’s facilities since February have been patients who had not received vaccines.

However, vaccinations for Carroll County have continued to increase, with over 36% of county residents deemed fully vaccinated, according to state Department of Health figures on Thursday.

In a report posted on Tanner’s Facebook page on Tuesday, the hospital system reported that 40 people were then hospitalized in their four west Georgia facilities. Three of those patients had been vaccinated, one was partially vaccinated, but 36 of those patients were unvaccinated.

That is an increase over the 30 patients being treated last week at Tanner’s hospitals in Carrollton, Villa Rica, Bremen, and Wedowee, Alabama.

Tanner accepts patients from across the region, not just those counties in which it has facilities. And not every COVID patient requires hospitalization, only those who are seriously ill. The most acute of those must be placed on ventilators to assist their breathing.

During the week of October 5, eight patients were on ventilators across the Tanner system, all of them unvaccinated.

As of Tuesday, that number had declined to six patients on ventilators, all of whom were also unvaccinated.

Since the vaccines became widely available in February, Tanner has been tracking the number of patients who have died at their facilities. Not all of these patients were from the west Georgia area.

Since February, 210 patients have died due to COVID-related causes. Of those, 22 patients had been vaccinated and six partially vaccinated, leaving the majority of 182 unvaccinated patients with fatal outcomes.

Compared to the numbers from last week, 14 patients have died between October 5 and October 12.

Viruses mimic living organisms by evolving, or mutating, over time to be resistant to whatever may be in a host’s body that might kill it. Health officials say the Delta variant of the original COVID virus first appeared in the region in early July, 15 months after the original version of the virus.

While vaccines cannot prevent an infection, COVID vaccines have proven effective in preventing the virus — even in mutated form — from causing serious illness, hospitalization, or death.

Vaccination rates have steadily risen in Carroll County since health officials began raising the alarm about the Delta variant.

As of Thursday, the state Department of Health was reporting that 89,696 doses of the two-dose vaccines had been administered in Carroll County.

Of those receiving the vaccinations, 40% have received at least one shot and so are deemed partially protected against the virus. Slightly over one-third of the county’s residents — 36% — are deemed fully vaccinated.