Joey Smith, deputy director of Forsyth’s Emergency Management Agency, gave an update Tuesday, Sept. 21, on the county’s COVID-19 status and the future regarding vaccines, boosters and testing during the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners work session.
Smith said that as of Tuesday, positive cases of COVID-19 were “declining slowly” in Forsyth County. He said after consulting with officials from Northside Hospital Forsyth, the downward trend is expected to continue.
“Hospitals across metro Atlanta, including Northside Forsyth, report admissions and total cases at the hospitals seem to have plateaued,” Smith said. “However, [emergency room] visits [for COVID-19] symptoms remain steady.”
Smith explained to the board that District 2 Public Health recently partnered with Mako Labs and Forsyth County Parks and Recreation to provide free COVID-19 testing at Central Park in Cumming.
Drive-thru COVID-19 PCR tests are free, but patients will have to wait 36 hours for results; they are not rapid tests.
Smith said that the site is averaging around 75-100 tests per day.
While the FDA has approved an amendment to the Emergency Use Authorization to allow Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for immuno-compromised and patients 65 and older, there is not a set date when the immunizations will be available through the Forsyth County Health Department.
As of Friday, Sept. 24, the CDC, based on the FDA’s approval, recommends:
- People 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings, and people aged 50-64 years with underlying medical conditionals should receive a booster shot of Pfizer’s vaccine at least six months after their Pfizer primary series;
- People aged 18-49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot of Pfizer’s vaccine at least six months after their Pfizer primary series, based on individual benefits and risks;
- People aged 18-64 years who are at risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may receive a booster shot of Pfizer’s vaccine after their Pfizer primary series, based on individual benefits and risks.
Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster shots have not been approved by the FDA.
Monoclonal antibodies treatment
Smith said that since the federal government has changed the way the antibodies are distributed, it has “slowed the availability nationwide.”
Forsyth County is working with partners at the Department of Public Health and Northside Hospital Forsyth to set aside space for use for antibody treatments as the supply becomes available.
Forsyth County and its partners have also set up a vaccination clinic at Northside Hospital Forsyth. Residents who would like to get a vaccine can register at www.northside.com/covid-19.
Alternate vaccination locations can be found at www.vaccines.gov.
Smith said that Forsyth County will continue to partner with reliable organizations to ensure the health and safety of residents.
County Manager Kevin Tanner said that all the county’s partners have been “incredible” the past 18 months and have been working hard to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
“[Our partners have] been under so much duress,” Chairwoman Cindy Jones Mills agreed. “Just when they thought it was getting better, to get hit again with another wave, it’s really been difficult for all the health care workers.”
When Mills asked Tanner if he thought another wave of COVID-19 could be in Forsyth County’s future, he said that it was possible.
According to the data of positive cases in 2020, the IT Department and Risk Management noticed an upward trend the same time last year.