As hospitals hit capacity across metro, state sets another single-day record for COVID-19 cases

ATLANTA — It was another record-setting day for new COVID-19 cases for the state of Georgia. The Department of Public Health said 8,769 new cases had been reported Friday from across the state.

The daily totals are made up of tests that have tested positive for the virus over the last two weeks.

The surge in positive cases comes as many north Georgia emergency rooms and hospitals are at or over capacity with patients.

On Wednesday, Channel 2′s Tyisha Fernandes reported from Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Braselton, where the hospital said it had so many patients that there were still at least 60 patients waiting to be seen in the Emergency Room and they were putting an overflow of patients inside a gymnasium on the hospital’s campus.

Earlier in the week, the state reopened the overflow site at the Georgia World Congress Center for mid-level COVID-19 patients from area hospitals.

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This is the third time the center has been used to treat patients. Gov. Brian Kemp said the GWCC will be open through at least the end of January.

In an effort to help more people receive the COVID-19 vaccine, Kemp announced Wednesday night during a Channel 2 Action News special, “COVID-19 the Vaccine in Georgia,” that he was expanding the criteria for who could get the shots in Phase 1a to include first responders and people over the age of 65.

The state also announced that it would be moving doses of the vaccine from around the state to areas that had the most need.

“There’s still a waiting list of hundreds of healthcare workers who are waiting to get vaccinated, but in many parts of rural Georgia, both in the north and the south, there’s vaccine available and literally sitting in freezers. That’s unacceptable. We have lives to save,” said Dr. Kathleen Toomey, commissioner of Georgia’s Department of Public Health.

As of Friday afternoon, close to 10,000 Georgians had died from the virus since it first appeared in the state. The positivity rate for the virus currently stands at just over 10%.