COVID, Flu Up Sharply in Georgia

Dave Williams

Wednesday, January 10th, 2024

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Cases of COVID-19 and flu have risen sharply in Georgia since the Christmas holidays, State Epidemiologist Dr. Cherie Drenzek reported Tuesday.

COVID cases have increased by about 50% since last week, hospitalizations are up 75%, and deaths have risen by 10%, Drenzek told members of the Georgia Board of Public Health. However, cases still remain well below levels experienced during the pandemic, she said.

Cases involving a new COVID variant – JN.1 – that surfaced recently have jumped 62% in the last month, Drenzek said. It is not thought to be as severe as some previous variants, she said.

“The most recent booster is thought to provide protection,” she said.

Drenzek said cases of flu in Georgia have more than doubled during the last month, accounting for more than 10% of all health-care visits. Hospitalizations have increased 50% since last week, while flu has caused 10 deaths in Georgia, she said.

Most of the flu cases involve the H1N1 strain, which typically peaks in January, she said.

The good news is that cases of RSV, another respiratory virus the public health agency tracks, have declined dramatically since an October peak, Drenzek said. Severe outcomes from RSV are most likely in children from birth to 6 months of age, while the RSV vaccine is targeted primarily for infants and pregnant women.

Drenzek said it’s not too late for Georgians to get the latest COVID booster or a flu shot, despite the lateness of respiratory illness season.

“Everyone over the age of 6 months should have a flu vaccine,” she said.