ATLANTA — New cases of COVID-19 have all but disappeared from a dozen rural Georgia counties over the last two weeks, according to state data.
Though COVID testing has also dropped sharply, it’s part of an encouraging statewide trend as the pandemic winds down.
Georgia still lags behind the country in its vaccination rate. And COVID testing has dropped sharply in Georgia, possibly explaining some of the data indicating the reduction in new cases. Even in counties where COVID appears to be disappearing, there are cautionary stories.
State Rep. Patty Bentley (D-Butler) was an active participant in this year’s legislative session – while at the same time, treating her husband for COVID.
Darryl Bentley had lapsed into a coma in December. He died in June.
"I am glad things are starting to turn for the better in this state as relates to the COVID-19 virus. And seeing the numbers kind of gradually go down," Bentley said Monday. "Yes, we can celebrate."
But Rep. Bentley is still grieving after losing Darryl Bentley one day after their wedding anniversary. Her home is in Taylor County, which reported only one new COVID case over the last two weeks.
State data as of Friday showed 60 Georgia counties with ten or fewer cases of COVID reported over the last two weeks. Of them, more than half of them had only two or fewer cases. A dozen counties reported zero COVID cases in the last two weeks.
Despite Taylor County's drop in COVID cases, the county lags behind the state average in vaccinations. Bentley find that troubling.
"One case is still scary, still sad. One case is too many," Bentley said. "We’re grateful that the numbers are low in Taylor. And I pray that it remains that way. But I don’t want people to lose sight of COVID. It’s still in this country. And that’s why its so important to get vaccinated."
Vaccination rates are increasing. In the last few days, Fulton and Cobb Counties joined Fayette and Oconee Counties by climbing past the 50 percent mark of eligible residents with at least one vaccination.