Health director for Cobb and Douglas counties concerned about COVID variants

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 district health director for Cobb and Douglass counties has issued a warning about the potential for a spike in COVID-19 cases due to the spread of variations of the virus, if enough people aren’t vaccinated soon.

“We continue to have a growing problem with the UK and the South African variants in Georgia,” said District Health Director Janet Pak Memark in a press release late Friday. ”If these variants take hold before we have enough people vaccinated, we may suffer another tremendous surge and more loss of life.

“Continued preventive measures like wearing masks, physical distancing and washing hands still need to be taken during this time.”

State health officials have said that the U.K. variant, which researchers say is more contagious and deadly, has already spread to more than 30 counties in Georgia and throughout metro Atlanta.

The South African variant is also thought to be more contagious, and scientists have expressed concern that it may impact the effectiveness of current vaccines.

Memark’s announcement came just days before the Georgia Department of Public Health expanded vaccine eligibility requirements on Monday to include adults aged 55, and older and individuals with disabilities and other medical conditions.