Barrow County

As officials warn of NYE gatherings, many area hospitals at or over capacity because of COVID-19

BRASELTON, Ga. — As Georgia reported a record number of COVID-19 cases on Thursday, Channel 2 Action News has learned that several area hospitals are at or over capacity, pushing some hospitals to the breaking point.

Channel 2′s Tyisha Fernandes went to the Northeast Georgia Medical System hospital in Braselton, where she learned at least 60 people were waiting for beds in the hospital’s emergency room. The hospital is putting patients anywhere they can, including a gymnasium.

As we head into New Year’s Eve, doctors are expecting the situation to only get worse.

“The problem is when we’re at capacity, it limits what we’re able to do,” Dr. Clifton Hastings, chief of staff at Northeast Georgia Medical System.

The medical system has four hospitals across north Georgia, and all are over capacity. That means if you or your loved ones get sick, there may not be a hospital bed available, according to Hastings.


“So literally there’s not places to put people. We have patients in the gym. We have patients in tents. We have patients in medical units and its non-optimal,” Hastings said. “We started before Thanksgiving with about 130 COVID-19 patients, we’re now at 300. So we’ve seen the surge after Thanksgiving and Christmas, and our concern is that we’ll continue to see that surge.”

New Year’s Eve is probably one of the most social holidays, when people like to have parties. But if you sacrifice being around people this year, doctors believe you could save some lives.

“And that’s hard to do. We’re tired. The community is tired. We’re all tired of this. We’re 10 months into this. However, it’s very important now that we protect each other,” Hastings said. “We know that group gatherings tend to be the most virulent way that this virus is passed, so we’re asking that people avoid if all possible. Hard to do on New Years Eve, but I think we can do that.”

Hastings said there’s hope on the horizon with people getting vaccinated, but until we’re further along with that process, people need to remember that this is a deadly virus and wearing masks, staying away from people and washing your hands all day long is still very important.