Blake Watts.jpg


Like much of the country, Rockdale County is experiencing a fourth surge of COVID-19 cases. We have seen a rapid increase in the number of COVID patients in our hospital, and we’re continuing to see a rise in community spread especially in the younger populations. The delta variant is highly contagious, leading to more instances of infection.

It is unknown when the peak of this fourth wave will occur, nor is it known how long it will last. However, one thing we do know is that if we continue on this same path we will reach numbers of positive cases higher that the previous surges — resulting in more sickness and death in our community. According to publicly available data, as of today only 40% of Rockdale County residents are fully vaccinated.

This virus has mutated a lot, and there is an increased chance for more contagious strains of COVID-19 to emerge the longer our community remains under-vaccinated and the pandemic continues. And although we hear of rare cases of vaccinated individuals getting COVID-19, they are usually asymptomatic and do not require hospitalization, unlike those who are unvaccinated.

Across the Piedmont system, over 95% of hospitalized COVID patients are unvaccinated. If you have been vaccinated, now is the time to talk to your family, friends and neighbors who might be on the fence about getting their shot. You can find all the information you need on the COVID-19 vaccines, including answers to frequently asked questions, at

Lastly, I’d like to remind everyone to continue to practice the 3 W’s; wash your hands, wear a mask, and watch your distance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recently updated their guidance to return to masking for everyone when indoors — regardless of vaccination status. With the delta variant being two to three times more contagious than previous strains of COVID, taking these steps can help protect yourself and those around you.

Rockdale County has demonstrated so much support for our staff during the pandemic. Your prayers and acts of kindness are appreciated more than you’ll ever know. What we need more than anything right now is for everyone to take COVID-19 seriously, get vaccinated, and help us end this surge of the pandemic.

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Blake Watts is CEO of Piedmont Rockdale Hospital.


I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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