North Georgia Health District officials continue to urge all residents age 5 and older to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19, including the primary series and boosters (for people 18+); to get tested if experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19; and, to follow the CDC recommendations, as mentioned in the (DPH) press release. COVID-19 vaccine is available with no need for an appointment during clinic hours at our health departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield counties, and free COVID-19 testing (PCR) is available in our health district through MAKO Medical. Please find on our website details for COVID-19 vaccine and testing offered by public health in North Georgia or go to dph.ga.gov to find all locations where the vaccine and testing are available in Georgia.
Atlanta – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has confirmed the Omicron variant in an unvaccinated metro Atlanta resident with no recent international travel history. The individual has mild COVID symptoms and is isolating at home. Contact tracing is underway to identify close contacts at risk of COVID-19 infection.
Previously, two cases of the Omicron variant were confirmed in metro Atlanta residents. One of those individuals was tested in New Jersey and is recovering there.
The omicron variant has now been detected in patients in at least 21 U.S. states and in dozens of countries around the world. Preliminary data show that Omicron may cause less severe illness but may spread more easily than the Delta variant. Scientists are still researching how well the current COVID vaccines or natural immunity hold up against Omicron, and caution that it is too early to make conclusions about Omicron because there is not enough data available.
More than 1,000 new cases of COVID are reported daily in Georgia, 99% of which are Delta variant and predominantly in unvaccinated individuals. Vaccination is crucial to stopping transmission of COVID and preventing the emergence of variants.
Atlanta – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has confirmed the first case of COVID-19 caused by the Omicron variant in Georgia. The individual recently traveled from South Africa and developed mild symptoms and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. Genomic sequencing confirmed the presence of the Omicron variant. The individual is isolating at home and contact tracing is underway to identify close contacts at risk of infection. This is the first identified in-state case of Omicron. DPH was notified Dec. 3 of a Georgia resident currently in New Jersey who tested positive for the Omicron variant.
Scientists continue to study the Omicron variant to determine how quickly and easily it spreads, whether it causes more severe illness and how well the current COVID vaccines protect against it.
Atlanta – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has been notified of a Georgia resident currently in New Jersey who has tested positive for COVID-19 and the Omicron variant. The individual recently traveled from South Africa and was in Georgia for two days before traveling on to New Jersey where the testing and sequencing were done.
The individual is fully vaccinated, and is isolating in New Jersey. Contact tracing is underway there and in Georgia to identify close contacts at risk of infection. So far, no additional Omicron cases in Georgia have been identified.
“Vaccination and boosters are key to preventing further transmission of COVID-19 and help prevent new variants like Omicron from emerging,” said Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health. “Only 51% of Georgians are fully vaccinated and of those individuals less than 20% have received booster doses.”
Studies show after getting vaccinated against COVID-19, protection against the virus and the ability to prevent infection with variants may decrease over time. Early data from South Africa suggest increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant, and scientists in the United States and around the world are urgently examining vaccine effectiveness related to this variant.
All Georgians over the age of 5 are now eligible for COVID vaccination. Booster doses of vaccine are recommended for adults 18 and older who completed their first series of vaccine at least six months ago. The CDC also recommends general prevention measures such as wearing a mask in public settings, staying 6 feet from others, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, and frequently washing your hands to protect against COVID-19.
Individuals who have symptoms of COVID-19 or who may have been exposed to someone with COVID should get tested.
To find a COVID vaccine or COVID testing location near you log on to dph.ga.gov.
DPH will continue to monitor Omicron developments and provide updates as new information becomes available.
For updates on COVID-19, follow @GaDPH and @GovKemp on Twitter and @GaDPH and @GovKemp on Facebook.