Cobb public health director concerned about rising number of COVID-19 variant cases

03/03/2021 —Marietta, Georgia — Cobb and Douglass County Public Health Department Director Dr. Janet Memark makes remarks after touring a COVID-19 vaccine drive thru site with Governor Brian Kemp and Georgia Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey at Jim Miller Park in Marietta, Wednesday, February 3, 2021. Gov. Brian Kemp said Wednesday that 1 million Georgians have now received a COVID-19 vaccine shot, which he called “an encouraging milestone.” But he said the state can’t ramp up for mass vaccinations because it doesn’t have enough vaccine. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

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03/03/2021 —Marietta, Georgia — Cobb and Douglass County Public Health Department Director Dr. Janet Memark makes remarks after touring a COVID-19 vaccine drive thru site with Governor Brian Kemp and Georgia Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey at Jim Miller Park in Marietta, Wednesday, February 3, 2021. Gov. Brian Kemp said Wednesday that 1 million Georgians have now received a COVID-19 vaccine shot, which he called “an encouraging milestone.” But he said the state can’t ramp up for mass vaccinations because it doesn’t have enough vaccine. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

The public health director for Cobb and Douglas counties says she’s concerned about an uptick in COVID-19 cases testing positive for three variants.

State District Public Health Director Janet Memark said in her COVID update earlier this week that Cobb county is seeing a “slow movement upwards” in the number of overall cases, but she is most worried about the rising number of coronavirus variants.

Georgia is the third highest in the nation, behind Florida and Michigan, for the number of variants detected, Dr. Memark said. People throughout Georgia have tested positive for variants from the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, and California, while Cobb has only seen cases of the U.K. and South African variants.

Dr. Memark said that only 2% of specimens are tested for variants.

Both strains found in Cobb are believed to be more contagious and potentially more deadly than the typical COVID-19 virus. Research indicates that current vaccines offer protection against most variants, Memark said.

Dr. Memark urged those who have yet to receive vaccines to make appointments as soon as possible. She also asked for everyone to continue wearing masks in public, washing hands frequently, and social distancing.

President Joe Biden has asked states to restore mask mandates, and the director of the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control has described feeling a sense of “impending doom” over fears of a fourth wave of COVID cases.

“If we delay, we will lose this battle against the fourth surge that is trying to take hold in our community,” Dr. Memark said.