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Dr. Janet Memark said in a town hall Thursday night that data continues to demonstrate the best protection against COVID-19 infection is being fully vaccinated with a booster shot.

Cobb Chairwoman Lisa Cupid said Friday morning a renewal of the county’s emergency declaration was likely later this month, barring a “marked decrease” in COVID-19 transmission.

An extension of the mask mandate in county facilities imposed by County Manager Jackie McMorris is also likely, Cupid added.

The news came during the second of two COVID updates — one on Thursday night, and another on Friday — in which county and public health officials and representatives of Wellstar Health System tried to gauge where Cobb is in the latest surge.

Public health director Dr. Janet Memark said a slight leveling off of the data in the last few days could be an indicator that the omicron variant’s spread is slowing.

“We’re hoping that this is a trend, and we’ll continue in that same direction, but we should know over the next week or so,” Memark said.

Added Wellstar’s Dr. Danny Branstetter, “We’re still seeing a very high level of transmission in our communities, even though we’re starting to somewhat come down from our peak. Again, the humbling thing about COVID-19, (it’s) hard to predict if this is going to continue in the downward trend.”

Branstetter added that though Wellstar is experiencing “some of the largest numbers that we’ve seen” in hospitalizations, data does indicate the omicron variant is taking less of a toll on patients than past surges, particularly for vaccinated patients. In past spikes, Wellstar was seeing 100 to 150 patients needing ventilators; as of Thursday, it only had 63.

As of Friday afternoon, both Wellstar Kennestone Hospital and Wellstar Cobb Hospital’s intensive care units remained on diversion status.

“One thing I want to stress,” Branstetter said, “is that does not mean the hospital is closed or the ER is closed. We’re still there to care for patients … the intent of that diversion is to help emergency medical personnel direct people that have a medical emergency to the quickest location they can get the most appropriate care, and the most appropriate level of care.”

In spite of the potential for transmission to begin declining, the county is still moving to expand testing opportunities. Earlier this week, the Board of Commissioners signed off on the purchase of 60,000 at-home test kits, which will be given to the public free of charge.

Distribution was initially set to begin Monday morning at Jim Miller Park. The county announced Thursday, however, that the kickoff would be delayed due to the expected winter weather Sunday.

“The weather threat has prompted Cobb County officials to postpone any public event until later in the week. More details will be announced soon,” the county said in a news release.

The Cobb County and Marietta City school systems did not release COVID-19 data Friday by press time. Marietta released numbers last Friday, but Cobb schools has not reported any data since Dec. 17, with the district saying changes to the district’s public health protocols as it relates to COVID-19 case counts, are “under review.”

Cobb County saw four deaths and 14 new hospitalizations on Friday.

Cobb County's COVID-19 Numbers for Friday

Category 01/14/22 Change
Cases 116,101 +935
Hospitalizations 4,505 +16
Deaths 1,376 +4

Georgia's COVID-19 Numbers for Friday

Category 01/14/22 Change
Cases 1,637,633 +14,788
Hospitalizations 98,822 +322
Deaths 26,747 +38

A Cobb and Douglas Public Health report, including data on how the coronavirus is affecting different ZIP codes, genders and ages, is available at reports.mysidewalk.com/17554e75c1#c-452027.

For the Georgia DPH’s full report, visit dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report.

National data can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at cdc.gov.

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