In Georgia, COVID-19 emergency is over, but the virus hasn’t disappeared

May 25, 2023 Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport: Reports of COVID-19 cases are at a low for the year in Georgia so few are masking as they pass through Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in advance of the Memorial Day weekend. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: John Spink

Credit: John Spink

May 25, 2023 Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport: Reports of COVID-19 cases are at a low for the year in Georgia so few are masking as they pass through Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in advance of the Memorial Day weekend. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Just in time for Memorial Day travel plans, around the state of Georgia, deaths, hospitalizations, and cases linked to the coronavirus have plummeted since the last surge in cases in January.

The Georgia Department of Public Health reported that based on the day of onset of illness, on May 10 the state had 213 new cases reported, with a 7-day moving average of 235 cases. Those numbers are down from Jan. 2 when the 7-day moving average of cases was at a high for the year of 2,140.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in the past 3 months Georgia has reported 328 deaths attributed to the virus. It also noted Georgia had 189 new hospital admissions of confirmed COVID cases in the week ending May 20; down 22% from the prior week.

The Southeastern region, which includes Georgia and seven other states, recorded 3,949 laboratory tests for COVID-19, with 3.6% positive for the virus for the week ended May 20. Nationally, during the same period, 4.3% of tests were positive. Case counts are no longer considered a reliable indicator of the virus spread because of the rise in home testing kits whose results are not reported to health agencies.

Vaccines are still recommended as the best precaution against infection. In Georgia, 11% of the population age 5 and up has received an updated booster shot, which targets the omicron variant of the virus now prevalent. Among the U.S. population of the same age, 18% has received the updated shot.

The government has mandated free COVID testing and treatment for virtually anyone, but that practice was slated to change with the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency on May 11. The Georgia Department of Public Health said that it would continue to provide free test kits at locations throughout the state, as long as its own supplies remain. Vaccines will still be available at no cost to the public at health departments, and medications to prevent severe COVID-19, such as Paxlovid, will remain available at no cost while supplies last from the federal government.

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