25 dead, 670+ hospitalized from flu in Georgia

ATLANTA — Doctors are dealing with a deadly rise in flu cases in Georgia. The flu has been designated as “widespread” across the state.

As of Monday, there are 25 confirmed flu-related deaths and 671 people hospitalized.

Channel 2's Carol Sbarge learned that all of those deaths involved people 51 or older.

Local doctors stress that the flu is dangerous to everyone. They're urging everyone who hasn't gotten a flu shot yet to get one.

Local emergency rooms are slammed as more and more sick patients check in.

In response to the flu epidemic, Grady Memorial Hospital has opened up a one-of-a-kind mobile ER unit. It's the only unit in the nation.


Officials at Grady Memorial Hospital told Channel 2's Lori Wilson for the first time this year, more than 500 people a day are coming into the ER.

"This year in particular we've seen volume increase 25 percent, which is fairly significant given our regular volume is fairly high to begin with," said Dr. Hany Attalah, Chief of the ER at the hospital.

Those patients complaining of everything, including the flu and flu-like symptoms.

"It's not only the Grady emergency system that's feeling this, it's pretty consistent across the country," Dr. Attalah said.

That high volume is what prompted hospital officials to call in Carolina's MED-1, a mobile hospital created to help out in disasters. It was first used after Hurricane Katrina.

"We are actually tied into their hospital system we show up on their email, their medical records," Dr. Attalah said.

In the mobile set up there are beds for 14 patients and technology that allows doctors to see patient records and to give them the attention they need.

"We're an extension of their emergency department, so that they can continue to provide normal services to their patients when their facility has other things they're trying to handle," said Kristy Haynes, the manager of MED-1.

This year the flu, a big concern.

"About 1 in 3 of the tests done for the flu in the month of January are coming back positive, so that's pretty significant," Dr. Attalah said.

Dr. Attalah told Wilson he has not seen a vaccine shortage, however he says they are holding the anti-viral drug doses for the very young and very old.