SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Thursday marks six months since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 as a ‘global health emergency’ on January 30th.
In Chatham County, hospitalizations in the past two weeks have increased 275 percent and the 14 day community spread index is up 293 percent.
The first two cases in Chatham County were reported March 20th. Dr. Lawton Davis said the Coastal Health District’s positive test rate is about 13.6 percent. Davis said although we have learned a lot about the virus since the WHO declared it as a global health emergency, he said we are still in what he described as a “live experiment.”
The Director of the Coastal Health District compared the virus with HIV—referencing the time it took to determine HIV’s cause and pointing to us still not having an effective vaccine. With several COVID-19 vaccine trials underway, Davis said they are dealing with similar issues they faced with the SARS virus; where people are only building up an immunity that lasts for a couple of months.
“So far it looks like with this one it may wane after a couple to three months, and so it’s going to be interesting and very important to see what happens with the immune response solicited by the vaccines,” Davis added.
Davis said another major challenge is cutting downt the time it takes to get test results.
“What we would love to do at this point in time, I think the next biggest thing for us would be somehow to improve the turnaround time so that when people have a test done we get the results back in 24 to 36 hours. If we could do that then case investigation and contact tracing would be much more meaningful,” Davis stated.
The Georgia Department of Public Health expert said COVID-19 was initially deemed as just a respiratory virus, but said studies now show that even if you recover from the virus you can still have lingering long-term effects. He said the approach to combating COVID-19 will continue to adapt over time as experts learning from testing and social distancing measures.
Davis said the upcoming school year will be a great opportunity to learn how to adapt—adding a belief that now is the time to learn from different approaches followed by implementing the ones that prove to be the most effective strategies.