Georgia shatters record for new COVID-19 cases reported in a 24-hour period

ATLANTA — Georgia shattered the record for new daily COVID-19 cases Wednesday, with nearly 20,000 new cases reported.

The Georgia Department of Health posted that there were 13,834 PCR-confirmed cases and another 6,060 antigen-confirmed cases, bringing the total number of cases to 19,894.

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There was a 47% increase in confirmed cases in just a 24-hour period.


Forty-five more deaths from the virus were also confirmed Wednesday.

The sudden explosion of cases comes as the highly-transmissible omicron variant of COVID-19 moves through the state.

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Of the new cases for the week of Dec. 25, 60% were among the unvaccinated, 35% were among those who have gotten two COVID-19 vaccines and 5% were among those who also got a booster shot.

Of those hospitalized this week, 73% have been unvaccinated, 22% had their first two shots and 3% had received a booster shot. Around 60% of vaccinated people who were hospitalized ages 65 and above and 80% of vaccinated people who died were also ages 65 and above.

On Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Brian Kemp said the state will try to immediately hire up to 1,000 temporary healthcare workers.

Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Justin Gray was at the state Capitol, where the governor said he plans to spend $100 million to help hospitals.

Part of the plan is to hire the 1,000 workers on 13-week temporary contracts.

State leaders are confident they can get help to hospitals in time to help with the omicron wave.

Dr. John Delzell with the Northeast Georgia Medical Center said the biggest issue hospitals are facing now are staffing shortages.

“We’ve had an incredible increase in the number of our own staff that have been out,” Delzell said.

Delzell said his hospital system went from under 20 staff out sick with COVID-19 to more than 175 in just three days. At the same time, they saw record numbers of patients in the emergency room in the past three days.

“This morning I came in and we had 70 patients that were waiting for a bed and had been waiting for longer than 6 hours for a bed,” Delzell said. “And that’s unheard of.”

Six major Georgia health systems issued a joint statement Wednesday, saying:

“Collectively, the health care systems have experienced 100 to 200 percent increases in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the past eight days and the vast majority of inpatients are unvaccinated. This comes at a time when the health systems are preparing for an influx of patients with seasonal flu.”

Hospital officials urged people to get vaccinated and to not show up at emergency rooms for COVID-19 testing.

Kemp said 200 National Guard troops will also deploy January 3, half to hospitals and half to testing sites.

The state is also working to set up a mass testing site in metro Atlanta near the airport.

Kemp said he is not considering any new regulations.

“I will not be implementing any measures that shutter businesses or divide the vaccinated from the unvaccinated, the masked from the unmasked,” Kemp said.