NORTH GEORGIA HEALTH DISTRICT

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    NEWS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS

Omicron Variant web banner
 

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.

Please note in the following NEW update from the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) that the Omicron variant has now been confirmed in an unvaccinated metro Atlanta resident with no recent international travel history. This is the 3rd confirmed case in a Georgia resident. Please see the full DPH press release by clicking on this pdf link just below:
 
NEW UPDATE
December 9, 2021
 

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.

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Please note the following update to the press release from the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and click on the full updated press release attached just below.
 
UPDATE
December 5, 2021
 

Atlanta – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has confirmed the first case of COVID-19 caused by the Omicron variant in GeorgiaThe 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.

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Download this pdf file. Omicron Variant Detected in Georgia Resident

NEWS RELEASE                         
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                                     
December 3, 2021                                                                                                 
 
Omicron Variant Detected in Georgia Resident
New Variant Reinforces the Need for Vaccination and Testing
 

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.

Nancy Nydam
Director of Communications
Georgia Department of Public Health
2 Peachtree Street, N.E., 15th Floor
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
(404) 657-2462
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Winter Weather Preparedness Week web

Winter Weather Preparedness Week

In conjunction with the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, and along with many of our core partners, December 6-10 is recognized as Winter Weather Preparedness Week this year in Georgia. 

Each day will be focused on a specific winter weather-related topic:

WWPWMonday, Dec. 6: Winter Weather in Georgia   -- learn about various winter weather hazards that can impact the state of Georgia

Winter storms, which often affect North Georgia, result in extreme cold, downed power lines and blocked roads and highways.

Prepare for the Winter with such items as:
  • Extra blankets, sleeping bags and warm winter coats.
  • Fireplace or wood-burning stove with plenty of dry firewood, or a gas log fireplace.
  • Kerosene heater, with proper ventilation.
 

Winter_Weather_Hazards_in_North_GA_-_Day_2.pngTuesday, Dec. 7: Winter Weather Terminology  -- learn about winter weather "alerts" (watches, warnings and advisories) and what they all mean

Knowing winter weather terms helps you know when to put your personal preparedness plan into action. Here are three key winter weather terms to know:

  • winter storm watch is issued when significant winter weather (i.e. 2 inches or more of snow, ½ inch or more of sleet, ¼ inch or more of freezing rain, or a combination of these events) is possible, but not imminent. A wide range of weather events can prompt a winter storm watch so make sure to pay attention to what the watch is calling for specifically. A watch is typically issued 12 to 48 hours before the possibility of winter weather. This is the time to prepare.
  • winter weather advisory indicates that winter weather is imminent and may cause inconveniences; monitor media for your local impacts. A winter weather advisory is issued up to 36 hours before an event where an 80 percent or greater chance of winter precipitation (i.e. snow, freezing rain/drizzle, sleet or blowing snow) is expected to cause inconveniences, but does not meet warning criteria. This is the time to put your winter weather safety plan into action.
  • winter storm warning is issued when a significant winter storm (i.e., 2 inches or more of snow, ½ inch or more of sleet, ¼ inch or more of freezing rain, or a combination of these events) is imminent and is a dangerous threat to life and property. A winter storm warning can also be issued at forecaster and emergency manager discretion when significant impacts are expected but snow, sleet or freezing rain criteria is not met. These warnings are typically issued up to 36 hours before an event that has an 80 percent or greater chance of significant winter precipitation. This is the time to put your winter weather safety plan into action.

Build a Ready Kit Day 3Wednesday, Dec. 8: Winter Weather Preparation Tips   -- learn how to best prepare for winter weather events, and put together a "Ready Kit" while making a plan before winter weather strikes

Recommended Items to Include in a Basic Ready Kit:

  • Water At least 3 gallons per person, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food At least a 3-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Can opener For food, if kit contains canned food
  • Radio Battery-powered or hand crank NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle To signal for help
  • Face mask To help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter in place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties For personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers To turn off utilities
  • Local maps

Click HERE to See Additional Items to Consider Adding to a Ready Kit.

Driving in Winter Weather Day 4Thursday, Dec. 9: Winter Weather Driving Tips/Safety  -- learn "best practices" for driving (if necessary) in winter weather conditions and how to pack a mobile "Ready Kit"

Minimize travel during winter weather. If you can postpone your trip or if it is non-essential, stay in when the weather is really bad. If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors. But if you do choose to drive:

  • Maintain at least a half tank of gas during the winter season.
  • Keep an extra Ready kit in the trunk of your car. In addition to the basic essentials, consider adding a portable cell phone charger, ice scraper, extra blanket, sand for traction and jumper cables.
  • Follow directions from local officials about driving during snow and ice storms, and drive with caution.
  • SLOW DOWN to at least half your normal speed and use a low gear as you drive.

Click HERE to learn more about winter weather driving…

Winter Weather Day 5 Pay Attention to ReportsFriday, Dec. 10: Winter Weather Outlook for 2021-22 season

Pay Attention to Weather Reports

Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts. Plus, your local news stations' broadcasts and your county EMA social media sites are great sources of weather information that specifically affects your area. Additionally, search for a variety of Smart Apps that are downloadable to your mobile devices and will alert you to weather hazards coming your way. Also, know your area’s risk for winter storms. Extreme winter weather can leave communities without utilities or other services for long periods of time.

WAD Rock the Ribbon T Shirt Reminder web

 North Georgia Health District Staff showed Support to Those Living with HIV on World AIDS Day!

See our album below that shows how North Georgia Health District Rocked the Ribbon today for World AIDS Day to show our support for those living with HIV and in memory of those who have died due to the virus.

Plus, FREE HIV testing was offered on World AIDS Day at all public health departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield counties and at The Living Bridge Center locations in Dalton and Canton. Free testing continues at all locations.

You, too, can remember those who have lost their lives to HIV... do your part to reduce stigma, learn more about HIV prevention strategies, walk or run a 5K, plant a tree, make a donation, and share your plans and pictures on social media using hashtag #TLBCWAD2021 or #TLBCRockTheRibbon.

Go here on our website for more information at https://www.nghd.org/tlbc-about-us.

To order a free HIV self-test kit, go to https://www.gacapus.com and click on the red triangle.

Let’s keep on Rocking the Ribbon!the living bridge center cropped2021 WAD T Shirt Logo web

Check out our album of North Georgia Health District staff Rocking the Ribbon on World AIDS Day! 

WAD 2021 Album

WAD 2021 Album 2

CDC Banner

 

 

CDC NEWSROOM ARTICLE 

Per the following CDC press release dated Wednesday, December 1, 2021, please know that although no cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant have been reported yet in Georgia, the North Georgia Health District is:

  • Continuing to urge residents ages 5 and up to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19, including 3rd shots and boosters – COVID-19 vaccine is available for free and without need of an appointment at all our health departments during clinic hours in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield counties - please click HERE for details.
  • Encouraging COVID-19 testing for anyone who has any symptoms or believes they may have been exposed to the virus. MAKO Medical Services has collaborated with public health to operate Free COVID-19 PCR Testing in all our counties - please click HERE.
  • Reminding residents to continue following the CDC recommendations to protect against the spread of COVID-19, including social distancing and wearing a mask in public, as appropriate - please link HERE to the CDC website

Media Statement

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Contact: CDC Media Relations (404) 639-3286

First confirmed case of Omicron variant detected in the United States

The California and San Francisco Departments of Public Health have confirmed that a recent case of COVID-19 among an individual in California was caused by the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529). The individual was a traveler who returned from South Africa on November 22, 2021. The individual, who was fully vaccinated and had mild symptoms that are improving, is self-quarantining and has been since testing positive. All close contacts have been contacted and have tested negative.

Genomic sequencing was conducted at the University of California, San Francisco and the sequence was confirmed at CDC as being consistent with the Omicron variant. This will be the first confirmed case of COVID-19 caused by the Omicron variant detected in the United States. 

On November 26, 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified a new variant, B.1.1.529, as a Variant of Concern and named it Omicron and on November 30, 2021, the United States also classified it as a Variant of Concern. CDC has been actively monitoring and preparing for this variant, and we will continue to work diligently with other U.S. and global public health and industry partners to learn more. Despite the detection of Omicron, Delta remains the predominant strain in the United States.

The recent emergence of the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) further emphasizes the importance of vaccination, boosters, and general prevention strategies needed to protect against COVID-19. Everyone 5 and older should get vaccinated boosters are recommended for everyone 18 years and older.  

For more information on the Omicron variant visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/variants/index.html.  

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