‘People aren’t hearing it’: Health commissioner says GA has long road ahead in COVID-19 battle

ATLANTA — Almost two years into the pandemic, Georgia’s Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey is still working on a full plate of problems.

In her one-on-one interview with Channel 2′s Justin Wilfon, Toomey shared her concerns about the omicron variant and whether anyone is still listening.

“I know that after a while it’s blah, blah, blah. People aren’t hearing it,” said Toomey.

She wants people to know that omicron seems highly contagious but may also come with a silver lining.

“It does not seem to be as deadly as some of the other variants, but it spreads much, much more easily,” Toomey said.

With five Georgians now diagnosed with omicron, Toomey said it’s likely already spreading in the state.

“I would not be surprised if we do have community spread,” Toomey said. “We just can’t really document that at this time.”

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She told Wilfon that she’s even more concerned about the delta variant, which at least for now still makes up the overwhelming majority of the state’s COVID-19 cases.

She said research shows that those who are fully vaccinated, and received their booster shots, have a strong level of protection against delta and omicron.

“One of the very important things I think we can continue to do is make it very easy to get the vaccine,” Toomey said.

But with only 52% of Georgians fully vaccinated, she knows there’s still a tough road ahead.

“I didn’t anticipate some of the hostility we experienced in trying to reach out to communities to provide the vaccination,” Toomey said.

With cases in Georgia ticking up, she’s also concerned about a winter surge ahead.

She encourages those who are not fully vaccinated to get a COVID-19 test before spending time with family during the holidays.

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