COVID Cases Rising Across Region

VALDOSTA – COVID cases are on the rise as the nation battles the newest surge. Omicron is spreading rapidly and that includes the 10 counties served by the Georgia Department of Public Health’s South Health District.

In three weeks the 7-day case increase for our 10 counties (Ben Hill, Berrien, Brooks, Cook, Echols, Irwin, Lanier, Lowndes, Tift and Turner) has increased more than 20-fold. The 7-day case increase for December 16, 2021, was 116 for our 10 counties. The 7-day case increase as of January 6, 2022, is 2,381.

Vaccines remain the best public health measure to protect people from COVID-19, slow transmission, and reduce the likelihood of new variants emerging and South Health District wants to encourage all eligible individuals who have not been vaccinated to do so.

“We know that vaccines help decrease your chance of serious illness and hospitalization,” said District Health Director Dr. William Grow, MD, FACP. “We are more than one year out from the release of the first COVID vaccines. For those who were hesitant, now is the time. Vaccination is our best tool to overcome this virus.”

Only 53 percent of Georgians are fully vaccinated, and that number is significantly lower in some of the counties SHD serves. Rates of those who are fully vaccinated by county as of January 6, 2022 are:

  • Turner – 51%
  • Brooks – 45%
  • Tift – 41%
  • Cook – 39%
  • Ben Hill – 38%  
  • Irwin – 38%
  • Lowndes – 37%
  • Berrien – 32%
  • Echols – 32%
  • Lanier – 27%

As new cases increase and hospitalization rates rise, it is more important than ever that anyone who has not been vaccinated get vaccinated.

In addition to vaccination, South Health District continues to encourage everyone to practice other mitigation steps including mask wearing, social distancing, hand washing and avoiding crowded settings.

It is also extremely important to stay home if you are sick. If you believe you may have COVID, schedule a test through your local health department, hospital, private provider or pharmacy. If you do test negative, but continue to not feel well, stay home until you are feeling better. Whether it is COVID, the flu, a cold or “just allergies,” if you are not feeling well, stay home.

Contact your local health department today to schedule a vaccination or booster appointment.

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit and like South Health District on Facebook.