ATLANTA — The number of COVID-19 cases in Georgia has broken a new record -- just as Gov. Brian Kemp announced the Georgia World Congress Center will reopen to help hospitals with the surge.
On Tuesday, the Georgia Department of Public Health reported 6,242 cases and 52 confirmed deaths. The previous record was 6,144 on Dec. 18.
“In concert with rises in cases and hospitalizations, our hospitals have seen increase need for bed space to treat other patients,” Kemp said during a news conference at Emory University. “The state is activating a rapid plan to increase capacity and ensure our hospitals are not overrun.”
[SPECIAL SECTION: Coronavirus Pandemic in Georgia]
This is the third time the center has been used to treat patients. Kemp said the GWCC will be able to accept patients by next week and will reopen through at least the end of January.
“I have authorized the reopening of the Georgia World Congress Center alternate care facility with 60 new beds to assist with patient overflow,” Kemp said.
Kemp acknowledged just how bad the pandemic is getting again.
“If you look at maps, you just see cases rise and just, you know, either orange or red in just about every county which is why we need people to really hunker down,” Kemp said.
The governor also made a plead for Georgians to not let their guard down during the holidays this week and next week.
“I know many Georgians are anxious to spend time with their loved ones, and believe me I am as well. But we are pleading with Georgians to do the right thing and stay vigilant,” he said. “Where possible, please limit your holiday gatherings to just a few people in same household or consider gathering virtually.”
Kemp encouraged everyone to stick to the four things he has asked all year: wear your mask, socially distinct, follow healthcare guidelines and practice good hand hygiene.
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“You know, we’ve been through this before. We’ve had some holidays that were bad, and we’ve had some holidays that ended up not so bad. We need Christmas to be not so bad,” Kemp said.