By Grayson Williams
As COVID-19 vaccine appointments remain limited in Hart County, a drive-thru clinic is opening to locals in Elbert County.
Elbert Memorial Hospital is teaming with Athens Technical College to offer COVID-19 vaccines later this month, according to Athens Technical College president Andrea Daniel.
Beginning Feb. 22, a drive-thru clinic will be held under a large white tent in the parking lot to the right of the Elbert Memorial Hospital, 4 Medical Drive, Elberton.
To schedule an appointment, you must meet the tier 1A requirements, which includes being 65 years old or older. Appointments are available now by calling 706-283-3151 ext. 359.
All of the vaccine doses available at the Hart County Health Department are currently committed to patients’ first and second doses, so no appointments are currently available, District 2 public health spokesperson Dave Palmer told The Sun.
Palmer said more appointments may become available by next week, but that is dependent upon supply.
The Hart County Health Department has administered 2,059 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday, Feb. 15, while a total of 3,215 total vaccinations have been administered by all providers in the county as of Monday, according to Department of Public Health data.
In Hart County, 2,638 folks have received their first dose and 577 have received their second dose. The vaccination rate in Hart County is currently 12,474 per 100,000 people.
The number of vaccinations per day is beginning to increase, with 110 administered on Feb. 10, 115 doses on Feb. 11 and 228 doses administered on Feb. 12 in Hart County.
When appointments at the local health department become available again, appointments can be made through www.phdistrict2.org or the call center 1-888-426-5073.
The death toll from the disease increased to 34 this week, according to DPH data, while 15 additional deaths are considered “probable” COVID-19 deaths.
Hart County has seen 68 new COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks, a rate of 260 cases per 100,000.
At a virtual Hart County Board of Health meeting last week, District Health Director Zachary Taylor said while the rate of infection in Hart County has slowed, it is still considered high.
“Anything above 100 per 100,000 is considered high,” Taylor said.
He said the test positivity rate over the past two weeks is at 20 percent.
“So there is still transmission ongoing in Hart County,” Taylor said. “And we certainly recommend that people continue to wear masks and practice social distancing and avoid gatherings outside of their home.”
A new variant of the virus from the United Kingdom that has made its way into Georgia is also concerning public health officials, Taylor said.
“This new variant is more easily transmissible than the virus variant that has been circulating in the United States,” Taylor said. “So we’re concerned that as it becomes more prevalent, and it actually could become the dominant variant in the U.S., that we will have another surge in cases related to that. We’re keeping an eye on that.”
Taylor said another variant, originating in South Africa, is also more transmissible, and some of the vaccines appear to be less effective against it. While that variant hasn’t been detected in Georgia yet, there has been a case of it reported in South Carolina.
Later in the meeting, board of health member Joey Dorsey said he was concerned some local businesses were not following sanitization procedures, in particular with payment pads, and the board voted unanimously to draft a letter reminding businesses about the governor’s executive orders requiring sanitization.
“This is one way we can help slow the spread of this,” Dorsey said.