Georgia reports nearly 5,000 new daily cases as delta variant surges

For days, metro Atlantans have been lining up to get tested for COVID-19

Virginia Frederickson came out to a walk-up testing window Tuesday at Highland Urgent Care.

"I might be positive, because my husband tested positive," Frederickson says. "I had the first vaccine shot, but I haven't had the second one."

The Georgia Department of Public Health reported nearly 4,986 new cases Wednesday.

FOX MEDICAL TEAM: Demand for COVID-19 testing is surging again as delta variant spreads

State epidemiologist Dr. Cherie Drenzek, DVM, says 16.2% of those getting tested were positive for the virus.

"That's really, really high," Drenzek says. "It tells us, again, that likely delta variant is spreading all across the state."

She estimates more than 90% of new cases across the state are linked to the delta strain.

On a CDC map tracking transmission of the virus, most of Georgia is either orange or red, indicating a high level of spread.

"Pretty much the entire state is now considered to be at high or substantial transmission," Dr. Drenzek says.  "So, for me, what that means is that we're certainly seeing the spread of delta variant, which is not unique to Georgia. We're seeing it in many, many others states.  It spreads rapidly. It's highly transmissible."

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Drenzek says getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself.

She says a shows two doses of the mRNA vaccine offer about 88% protection against getting sick with the delta variant.

"That is not perfect; it's not 100%," Drenzek says.  "No vaccine is 100%.  But, 88% is good. So, there may be some diminishment in terms of prevention of infection, but there is very strong protection against severe outcomes and hospitalizations and deaths."

Drenzek says the virus has changed so much over the last 18 months, it's almost like we are facing a new pandemic. 

She acknowledges the state appears to be headed into a third wave of the virus.

But, this time around, she says, there is a way to fight back: a vaccine.

"If we can keep numbers down, no matter what, it allows us to be able to control the emergence of any new variants," Dr. Drenzek says.  "It keeps the spread of delta down, it keeps the changes in delta from occurring in making it even worse than it is."

Forty percent of Georgians are fully vaccinated. 

Studies show those like Frederickson, who are partially vaccinated, have little protection against the highly contagious delta variant.

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