Vaccine arrives in Hart


County among top in state in positivity rate

  • virus

The novel coronavirus continues to infect and impact Hart County as a community prayer vigil was held recently for those suffering from the disease — but a vaccine is finally here.

Over the past two weeks, 176 new cases have been added to Hart County’s total number of cases, which reached 1,004 on Tuesday, since March.

A community prayer vigil  for middle school teacher Kelley Gaines and others battling COVID-19 was held at Hart County High School’s Herndon Stadium on Dec. 20. Gaines, 47, died earlier that morning after fighting the disease for weeks. She was the STEM coordinator at Hart County Middle School, a TSA advisor and the school’s Teacher of the Year in 2019-2020.

There have been 20 deaths from COVID-19 in Hart County since March, according to the Department of Public Health, with 11 more deaths that are listed as “probable” COVID-19 deaths.

But the long-anticipated vaccine is now in Hart County, District 2 Public Health spokesperson Dave Palmer confirmed to The Sun.

The Hart County Health Department has received 200 doses of the newly FDA-approved Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, Palmer said.

Other healthcare providers in Hart County who enrolled to be a COVID-19 vaccine provider could have received vaccine doses this week as well, Palmer said.

The vaccine is to be distributed, in the first phase, to healthcare personnel likely to be exposed to or treat people with COVID-19, first responders and then people at risk for severe illness and other essential workers.

Those who will be vaccinated in the first phase will be notified where to receive the vaccine, Palmer said, and those sites will likely be at or near work and care sites.

There is no COVID-19 virus in the vaccine, according to the DPH. The vaccine imitates the infection so that our bodies create antibody defenses to fight off COVID-19.

Scientists had a significant head start developing the COVID-19 vaccines, according to the DPH. COVID-19 is very similar to other viruses, which already have vaccines.

More than 70,000 people participated in clinical trials for the two vaccines to see if they are safe and effective. To date, the vaccines are nearly 95 percent effective in preventing COVID-19, according to the DPH.

Almost one-quarter of people who were tested for COVID-19 in Hart County last week received positive results. The testing percent positivity rate, which the DPH says can indicate the level of community spread, was 23.4 percent between Dec. 12 and Dec. 18, which is an increase of nearly two percent from the previous week. Hart County was among the top-20 counties in the state for highest percent positivity rate in that time period.

Northeast Georgia has been hit hard by the virus in recent weeks, with Franklin, Stephens, Banks and Habersham counties all being represented on the DPH’s interactive map with deep red coloring, indicating high levels of cases per 100,000 people in the last two weeks.

Statewide, more than 518,000 people have been infected and at least 9,503 have died since March.