Chatham County is seeing high demand for tests, averaging 1,000 a day this week
SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Omicron variant increases community spread “significantly,” according to Chatham County Health Department officials.
“It’s no secret that the Omicron variant is here and it’s certainly spreading throughout our country, state and county as well,” Dr. Chris Rustin said.
At Friday’s county commission meeting, Dr. Rustin said this variant differs from other diseases in its rapid rise in cases, appearing vertically on a graph – with numbers that are still climbing.
Omicron produces nearly double the number of new weekly cases than the Delta variant, according to Rustin. Result: a strong demand for tests.
The county health department resumed testing at the Civic Center site on Monday, testing more than 3,500 people in the first three days of this week at their two sites. Rustin said while rapid tests are getting harder to find, PCR tests — which the department uses — are more effective.
“If you do a rapid test and you have all the symptoms of COVID and it’s negative, it’s probably a false negative,” he said. “If you can’t find a rapid test and you’re sick enough to stay home, I would recommend staying home and just considering the possibility that this is what you have.”
Chatham County’s vaccination rate is comparable to the state average, with 53% of residents fully vaccinated. But the county is ahead of the state in boosters, with 38% of residents fully vaccinated with a booster.
Rustin said that at the end of the day, vaccines are still the best defense — even if you’ve been infected.
“This particular variant hit so fast that we’re learning almost in real time and I don’t think there’s a lot of good data to show how immune you are to infection at this point,” he said. he declares. “So it’s always recommended that if you get infected and you recover, you get vaccinated.”
A commissioner asked a question that many of us might wonder: when will the virus go away?
“The only purpose of a virus in life is to replicate, and they are looking for a living host to do that,” he said. “And if they keep mutating, it reduces the effectiveness of the vaccine. You know, it could go on for a while, but it’s hard to predict something like that.
The county’s two testing sites at the Civic Center and Georgia Tech Savannah Campus will be open on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It’s free, but you must register in advance. There will also be a mobile vaccination clinic at the fire station on Oglethorpe Ave. Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments are encouraged.