ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp and the state’s top public health official pleaded with unvaccinated Georgians to get the COVID-19 vaccine as cases surge across the state.
The governor also promised that the new case surge won’t affect Georgia businesses.
“Today I want to reiterate Georgia will remain open for business, we will not shut down, we will not stop families from earning a paycheck,” said Governor Kemp.
Georgia reported over 14,000 new cases of the virus over the weekend.
The governor said he will give state employees the day off on September 3 and he strongly encouraged them to get vaccinated. Kemp said he would not mandate vaccines for state employees.
Kemp said the state would also be working to add staff and boost funding to hospitals. Hospital systems across the country are dealing with staff shortages.
He said the state will spend another $125 million to finance 1,500 additional staffers and readying 450 new beds in nine hospitals for COVID-19 patients.
Dr. Kathleen Toomey said the state will also be making it easier to get a COVID-19 test. Testing sites in metro Atlanta have seen increasingly long lines in the past few weeks.
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Doctors say the increase that Georgia is seeing in cases is happening faster than previous spikes during the pandemic due to the highly contagious nature of the delta variant.
Across Georgia, many intensive care units and emergency departments say they are overwhelmed by the COVID-19 surge driven by the delta variant.
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The Georgia Coordinating Center tracks how busy hospitals across the state are.
Many ICUs are out of room for more patients, which is creating backups in emergency rooms. The GCC website listed some of metro Atlanta’s biggest hospitals on total diversion.
Georgia health officials predict we could see the peak of this latest surge in early September, around Labor Day weekend.
Grady Memorial Hospital’s chief medical officer, Dr. Robert Jansen, said they’re handling the load as best they can while facing the same staffing shortages other hospitals across the southeast are facing.
“It is fatiguing, and it is frustrating,” Jansen said. “Now we’re in the middle of a surge that, if we’re not lucky, could exceed what we saw back in January.”
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