Both COVID and monkeypox rates are starting to decline in Georgia, the state’s chief science officer said Tuesday during an update to the state Board of Public Health.

“Last week, we saw a 38% decline in [COVID] cases in Georgia,” said Dr. Cherie Drenzek, epidemiologist and chief science officer for the state Department of Public Health (DPH).

“Hospitalizations and deaths have also declined about 20% in the last two weeks,” Drenzek added, noting there are about 120 deaths per week in Georgia now. 

Monkeypox infection rates are also starting to decline in Georgia, Drenzek said. 

All told, there have been close to 1,600 cases in Georgia, with most of those in metro Atlanta. The majority of the people who have been infected have been men who have sex with men. Only 2% of those infected have been women. 

And at least 50% of those diagnosed with monkeypox had also tested positive for a sexually transmitted infection in the last year, Drenzek said. 

Dr. Alex Millman, Georgia’s chief medical officer, said the state’s monkeypox vaccine effort has focused on outreach to community groups, pop-up vaccine events, and social media messaging.

Currently, vaccines are administered across Georgia, and people can book appointments online through a DPH website

The vaccines are indicated for people who have already been exposed to monkeypox or who have a high risk of being exposed, Millman said. 

So far, around 22,000 first doses of the two-dose vaccine have been administered to Georgians, he said.

DPH administered more than 4,000 doses during the recent Atlanta Black Pride week, he said.  

The DPH board approved a plan to continue meeting virtually each month and hold hybrid in-person/virtual meetings each quarter. 

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.