Suburbs seeing rise in COVID-19 cases in unvaccinated people in their 20s - 40s

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the rise in the suburbs.

Channel 2′s Gwinnett County Bureau Chief Tony Thomas talked to Gwinnett Newton and Rockdale County’s public health director about why this is the perfect storm.

Dr. Audrey Arona said a highly infectious variant and a low vaccination rate are just two of the factors pushing up the numbers of COVID infections and hospitalizations.

“ICU beds so far are OK, but I think the hospitals are concerned, and so am I,” Arona said.

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Statistics from the Georgia Department of Public Health show that 53% of eligible Gwinnett County residents are fully vaccinated, higher than most Georgia counties. But hundreds of new cases have been reported in the last few days.

Arona said just over half of the county being vaccinated is not enough.

“We cannot see what happened in January with our hospitals,” Arona said. “I just worry about their ability to sustain that level of care that they have to give.

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That’s one reason why Jordan Germany decided to go ahead and get his vaccine.

“I was scared at first, just looking at (the numbers),” Germany said. “I am just trying to stay proactive, trying to do everything right.”

Germany is in the key age group right now. Arona said a rising number of the people being hospitalized for COVID are in their 20s to 40s, and almost all of them are unvaccinated.

“The virus is going to find pockets of our population that are unvaccinated and that’s why we’re seeing that age group,” Arona said.

Patreesa Miller said the uptick in cases motivated her to finally get the shot.

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“I felt like it was mostly people who didn’t have the vaccine that was catching the virus,” Miller said. “I feel relieved. I feel like I completed something off my list that was a dire need for the community.”

Arona said she’s also worried that eventually, new mutations will rise and develop that resist the vaccine.

“We just can’t allow for the spread of the virus,” Arona said.