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COVID-19 cases rising in Bibb County, but not as severe as previous surges

Dr. Sandy Duke says COVID cases are going up again due to people wearing masks less often and more summertime gatherings

MACON, Ga. — According to the CDC, Bibb along with Peach, Monroe, Houston, and Wilkinson counties are all Central Georgia counties back at high risk for COVID-19. 

However, some doctors are saying it's not as bad as two years ago. We spoke to some medical professionals about why the coronavirus is spreading again and what folks say about it. 

"It's really a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” says Dr. Sandy Duke. 

Atrium Health Navicent's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Duke says that the number of people getting COVID-19 is nowhere near where it was last year, but, "We think that the actual number of cases is slightly higher than that given the number of at-home tests that are available now, so the numbers are probably higher than what the Department of Public Health reports on their website,” he explains. 

Duke says COVID cases are going up again due to people wearing masks less often.

"So now as we come together and have gatherings around holidays, we're seeing people coming back from summer vacations and then coming down with COVID, or contracting COVID while they were away,” he says. 

Duke says that there are fewer COVID hospitalizations compared to last year, but it should still be taken seriously. 

"We had actually gotten to the point where we didn't have anyone in the system with COVID in the hospital, and we're now back up where we have several in isolation, and several in the intensive care unit with very serious disease,” Duke says.

Chante Conway says she's vaccinated and only wears masks if there are big crowds.

"I'm not as fearful as I was when COVID first came out,” she explains. 

Conway says people should've gotten their first couple of vaccinations.

“However, now that it's settled down, no. Unless you're traveling or on a plane or a cruise ship,” she says. “Just stay as safe as possible. If you're going to be around a ton of people, try to put on your mask. If not, just enjoy the freedom we have now.”

Michael Hokanson works from North Central Health District, an organization that educates 13 counties in their district about health and preventing disease. 

"When it comes to COVID, we are definitely in a completely different environment than we were last year,” he says. 

Hokanson says there's a reason why COVID doesn't seem to be as severe as before.

"Instead of having an illness that hits hard and fast. We do have something that does spread quickly, but does not impact individuals as harshly as previous variants of COVID. The vaccine does also add that buffer as well,” he says. 

Hokanson says that this strain seems to be a variant of Omicron. 

Dr. Duke says COVID can still be severe and even deadly to those who are unvaccinated and urges everyone to get the shot if they haven't already.

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