Georgia World Congress Center reopens as temporary hospital as COVID-19 cases rise

ATLANTA — As COVID-19 numbers continue to rise across Georgia, the governor is reactivating the Georgia World Congress Center as a back-up for metro Atlanta hospitals.

The GWCC acted as a temporary hospital earlier this year when the COVID-19 pandemic first began. It took in 17 patients during the time it was open and was last used around the end of the May .

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The $21.5 million project opened in April. It will hold 200 COVID-19 patients from across the state and can expand to 400 patients if needed. The patients taken to the GWCC will be the less severe cases who do not require a ventilator.

“Over the past two weeks, we have experienced an increase in cases and hospitalizations, and following a drop-off in specimens collected over the holiday weekend, we now expect a trend of higher case numbers as new results arrive,” the governor’s office said in a statement.

On Friday, Georgia set a new single-day record for coronavirus cases.

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According to GEMA, 55% of ER beds are currently in use across Georgia. Seventeen percent of critical care beds are available and 17% of general inpatient beds are available in hospitals across the state. There are 983 adult ventilators in use, about 35% of the state’s inventory.

The governor’s office said the patients tend to be younger and the hospital stay time has cut in half since March.

“At this time, we are seeing increased hospitalizations, but the patient profile is much different than that of early spring. Patients are younger, cases are less acute, and treatment improvements – with advances like remdesivir – have halved the average hospital length of stay from fourteen to seven (or fewer) days,” the statement said.

Hospitals will continue to do elective procedures.