COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations soar in Georgia

ATLANTA — A metro Atlanta epidemiologist said Georgia is overdue for a mask mandate and even tighter restrictions to fight the coronavirus.

The latest coronavirus numbers from the state came out Thursday afternoon. The Georgia Department of Health reports that 70 people have died from the coronavirus in the last 24 hours and over 2,500 new cases have been reported. On Wednesday, 69 deaths were reported. These death tolls are the highest since September.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Coronavirus Pandemic in Georgia]

Channel 2′s Carol Sbarge was in DeKalb County, where she talked to Lee Bryan, who was hospitalized with COVID-19 but has since recovered.

“It took me several months to kind of get my energy levels back,” Bryan said.

Bryan had a clear message for people as cases rise.

“It’s the simplest thing to do, to just put a mask on,” Bryan said.


White House task force says Georgia is back in red zone for COVID-19 cases

Residents in DeKalb neighborhood boycotting gas station after alleged racial incident

Allegations of ballots cast by dead voters under investigation in Georgia

Sbarge talked to Dr. Felipe Lobelo, who is the physician director of epidemiology at Kaiser Permanente Georgia. He worries that hospitals and health care workers will be strained with the expected surge.

“It’s almost like health care systems, we are on our own in terms of dealing with the aftereffects of what we know is going to be a wave of infection and hospitalization,” Lobelo said.

Lobelo thinks stronger mitigation measures need to happen statewide, including a mask mandate. He said some businesses need to be closed for awhile.

“Like restaurants, bars, gyms,” Lobelo said. “Those environments where we know air is not good. People are going to congregate.”

Lobelo said wearing masks and practicing social distancing are the most important things we can do.

Bryan agrees.

“You may get by without having a symptom, but that doesn’t mean that you’re not going to pass it to somebody that dies from it,” he said.

Lobelo said he is encouraged by the news that a vaccine is on the horizon, but said we have many months to get to before it will be available for widespread use.

[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]