4th of July travel may be contributing to spike in COVID-19 cases, doctor says

ATLANTA — Like many metro Atlanta hospitals, the COVID-19 patients being treating at Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center are the unvaccinated.

The hospital system’s medical director, Dr. Danny Branstetter, told Channel 2′s Carol Sbarge that some of those people likely got COVID-19 over the Fourth of July celebrations.

Regina Wells said she is fully vaccinated but still very nervous about the recent rise in coronavirus cases.

“I’m just really concerned as to where we’re heading for because this thing is serious. It’s really real and to be honest, it’s scary,” Wells said.

Branstetter believes more people traveling and gathering during the July 4 holiday week happened as fewer people were masking and the delta variant which is highly transmissible started spreading.


“Looking at the rise in cases and the timing this is pretty much related to July Fourth activities, so we’ve really seen it really 10 days post July 4 activity weekend, so mid-July we started noting this uptick,” Branstetter said. “Certainly, travel and mobility impacted the spread of the disease also activates we typically associate with holiday celebrations. Fireworks displays, large gatherings, etc. but also, we have relaxing ... mask mandates as well as usage.”

Branstetter said with the delta variant, they are seeing younger people who aren’t vaccinated getting COVID.

He believes people will listen to changing mask guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We know the right things to do. Still stick to doing those. Right now, we’re seeing another surge and it is good for everyone, vaccinated or unvaccinated, to be mindful,” Branstetter said.

With breakthrough cases, Branstetter says testing is still very important.