COVID-19 leaving families ‘broken and torn apart’ hospital officials say in chilling open letter

DALTON, Ga. — The CEOs of six major hospitals in northwest Georgia and the state’s Department of Health united in a sobering letter about the growing COVID-19 crisis in Georgia.

The CEOs of AdventHealth Southeast, the Floyd Health System, Hamilton Medical Center, Harbin Clinic, Piedmont Cartersville Medical Center and Redmond Regional Medical Center said cases and deaths are increasing dramatically, outbreaks in schools are the highest they’ve ever been and healthcare workers are exhausted.

Officials said only 35% of people in northwest Georgia are fully vaccinated, leaving the majority of people vulnerable to catching and spreading COVID-19.

“We need your help like never before. The pandemic — its current surge driven by the highly transmissible delta variant — continues to spread throughout Northwest Georgia and is quickly becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” they wrote. “Most new cases, hospitalizations and people in our critical care units on ventilators and advanced oxygen support are unvaccinated.”

Officials said rapidly increasing hospitalizations and deaths are “leaving families broken and torn apart and frontline workers physically and emotionally exhausted.”

Citing studies, officials said vaccinated Georgians have almost no risk of being hospitalized or dying of the virus.

Officials urged people not to go to emergency departments or call an ambulance for COVID-19 testing unless they are experiencing significant symptoms like severe respiratory distress, stroke symptoms or trauma.

“Let’s work together to stop the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19. We strongly urge everyone age 12 and older to get vaccinated, wear a mask in public settings where social distancing is not possible and wash their hands frequently,” officials wrote. “The vaccines work. They are safe and they prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death. If you haven’t been vaccinated, please protect yourself, your loved ones and your community by doing so.”

To find a vaccination location, visit www.vaccines.gov.