COVID-19 increases throughout metro Atlanta as holiday season begins

Fulton County's top doctor worried about COVID-19 cases heading into Thanksgiving holiday

ATLANTA, Ga. — Fulton County resident Jeff Jones said it’s going to be a lonely Thanksgiving.

“I have aging parents, and I can’t visit them due to the high rate of COVID," he said.

Like many counties in Georgia, DeKalb and Fulton are seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases just before Thanksgiving. That has some people nervous going into the holiday season.

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DeKalb health director Dr. Sandra Ford believes you can blame three things for the uptick: elections celebrations and protests, Halloween parties, and “COVID fatigue.”

“I know we’re all tired, but we’re not done," she said. "We’re not even close to being done.”

Ford doesn’t expect another peak in COVID-19 cases until sometime in December but is concerned.

“We are already at this level before the season hits. And as I keep saying, we also have the flu to compound all of this as well, so it’s very nerve-wracking right now.”

In DeKalb, the ZIP codes showing the biggest increases in the latest data available to Channel 2 Action News are in the Lithonia and North Druid Hills areas.

In Fulton County, the Alpharetta-Roswell area and downtown Atlanta are seeing the largest spikes.

Fulton’s Health Director, Dr. Lynn Paxton, is worried about the increase.

“We haven’t even hit Thanksgiving yet, and our numbers are rising.”

Paxton said that’s why she’s advising against holiday get-togethers. She said many times, they are multi-generational, and “even these small group gatherings can be real spreaders.”

Ford said she requires everyone to get tested before entering her home, including her college-aged son. But she warns against getting the test too early.

“A test is a moment in time. So if you take the test on your college campus, and you hop on an airplane, you’re being exposed all over again,” she said.

They hope a vaccine will help stop the spread by next Thanksgiving.

“And that’s so exciting,” said Paxton. “This is so much more effective than we thought that they would be. And so plans are already underway on how we’re going to roll those out.”

But she warns that it could be well into the next year before enough people are vaccinated to make a big difference.

So until then, health experts recommend following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, such as social distancing and wearing a mask.

Jones plans to do just that and said that “hopefully, the next Thanksgiving will be better.”

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