COVID: 2021 was our deadliest year of the pandemic. 693 lost in NW Georgia; 162 ‘probable’ deaths; 33,331 cases reported; and too few vaccinations requested.

COVID: 2021 was our deadliest year of the pandemic. 693 lost in NW Georgia; 162 ‘probable’ deaths; 33,331 cases reported; and too few vaccinations requested.

Most of us think of 2020 as the year the pandemic hurt the most impact. We remember the lockdowns, the first deaths, miracle survivals, mask mandates, polarizing politics and, eventually, the arrival of vaccinations.

We ended 2020 with 379 COVID deaths in Floyd, Bartow, Gordon, Polk and Chattooga counties as well as 36 probable deaths. We recorded 20,642 cases of the virus in our five counties. Our hospitals in Rome had 154 COVID patients under care on Dec. 31, 2020.

But this past year, 2021, was much worse.

Through 3 p.m. Dec. 31, Northwest Georgia has lost 693 residents, up almost 83% from 2020. The COVID deaths by county for the past 12 months:

  • Floyd: 217.
  • Bartow: 208.
  • Gordon: 120.
  • Polk: 99.
  • Chattooga: 49.

Area coroners recorded another 162 cases as “probable” deaths in 2021 as well. (We can’t compare probable deaths year-over-year as the state did not designate “probable” deaths until later in 2020).

We saw another 33,331 positive results of tests performed across Northwest Georgia, up 61.5% from 20,642 cases in all of 2020. Again, the region’s most populated counties had the most cases.

And while our hospital count is better than a year ago — 61 COVID patients in Floyd hospitals on Friday — it still is increasing by the day.

  • After first peaking at 166 patients on Jan. 26, 2021, the number dropped to three total patients — two at Atrium Health Floyd and one at Advent Health Redmond — on June 21.
  • But amid the Delta surge, the two Rome hospitals together reported 221 virus patients under care on Sept. 10.
  • It dropped again to 19 patients on Dec. 7 but has climbed each day since.

VACCINATIONS

A year ago, the first vaccinations were arriving in Northwest Georgia. Healthcare professionals were among the first to receive them and then older residents considered at a higher risk (we got ours on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in 2021). In those 12 months, vaccinations have been made available to most age groups but the region’s numbers remain far below state averages (see below).

And these two graphics, above and below, show where Northwest Georgia counties rank vs. the state in terms of percentages of those who have been vaccinated.

The top graphic shows those who have received at least one dose. In Floyd, for example, 194 people got their first shots for the week ending Dec. 31, tied for the lowest week we’ve tracked since Nov. 24.

The graphic below shows the percentage of area people who have completed both vaccine does. Again, using Floyd, 210 people completed their doses for the week ended Dec. 31, the lowest since Nov. 24.

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