Health experts warn of potential COVID-19 surge heading into winter months

ATLANTA — A former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention epidemiologist says there are signs hospital coronavirus cases could double this winter after a summer surge.

Georgia is heading into the time of year when more people are indoors. The doctor Channel 2′s Carol Sbarge spoke with Monday said now more than ever is when people need to social distance and wear masks.

“I’m just trying to take it day by day and keep in mind other people,” said Avery Olson.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Coronavirus Pandemic in Georgia]

Olson means wearing a mask when around other people and social distancing.

But Kaiser Permanente Georgia epidemiologist Dr. Felipe Lobelo said not enough Georgians are doing that.

“Mask wearing is still much lower here than needed in Georgia – 50% to 60% where it really needs to be over 90%,” Lobelo said.


Lobelo said some of the indicators they’re seeing is an uptick in coronavirus cases since the middle of October.

“We do unfortunately expect a large increase in COVID hospitalizations over the next few weeks just like we’ve seen over other parts the country. Essentially because there’s a lot of transmission of the virus right now,” Lobelo said.

The epidemiologist told Sbarge if the spread isn’t controlled more, the number of coronavirus cases in area hospitals in January could be double what they were during the summer surge.

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"Social distancing and masking even more important now -- also flu. Still a good time to get a flu shot.

“I need to respect others. They need to respect me with masks,” Olson said.

Lobelo said when cases start to increase there’s a lag time from when people are tested and when cases then begin to increase in hospitals.