The six major healthcare systems in Metro Atlanta have released a rare united statement in response to the increased number of patients admitted and the rapid dissemination of COVID-19 variations. They are asking for public assistance in reducing unnecessary emergency department visits and preventing the infection from spreading further.
On Wednesday evening, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Emory Healthcare, Grady Health System, Northeast Georgia Health System, Piedmont Healthcare, and Wellstar Health System signed on to the statement, stating that they are “seeing a staggering increase in adults and children with COVID-19 symptoms and diagnoses.”
“Collectively, the health care systems have experienced 100 to 200 percent increases in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the past eight days and the vast majority of inpatients are unvaccinated,” the statement reads in part. “This comes at a time when the health systems are preparing for an influx of patients with seasonal flu.”
The hospitals stated they’ve witnessed a large spike in the number of persons visiting their emergency rooms, some of whom are only there for COVID-19 testing and aren’t in need of treatment.
“To keep emergency rooms available to individuals who have the most critical health needs, individuals should obtain care at the most appropriate medical facility for their condition and seek COVID-19 testing at primary care locations, public health, and mass testing sites or use at-home testing kits,” the statement reads.
The Georgia Department of Public Health reported 19,124 PCR and antigen positives on Wednesday, setting a new single-day record for positive COVID-19 cases as the omicron form continues to spread. This smashes the previous record of 13,296 established on Jan. 8.
The number of tests reported is likewise at an all-time high. According to the GDPH, more than 56,000 PCR tests were registered on Wednesday alone, breaking the previous high of a little over 52,000. Nearly 14,000, or just over 24%, of the tests, were positive, according to the GPDH.
According to GDPH data, the 7-day average for PCR positivity is 21.70 percent.
Current hospitalizations are on the rise, with the GDPH reporting more than 2,500 COVID-19 patients in Georgia hospitals, a high not seen since the beginning of October.
Governor Brian Kemp announced on Wednesday that the state will spend $100 million to increase hospital staffing and deploy 200 National Guard troops to assist at coronavirus testing centers and hospitals throughout the state, citing an increase in new illnesses. With 13-week assignments, the money might mean around 1,000 additional people for hospitals. Hospitals will be assisted by half of the 200 National Guard personnel.
On January 3, the 200 troops will be deployed. Additionally, the Georgia Department of Public Health is increasing staffing at COVID-19 test sites and attempting to obtain a new testing site near Atlanta’s airport, according to Kemp.
Nonetheless, the hospitals are hoping that the public can assist buy some time for the healthcare system to implement those reliefs.
“The health and safety of our patients and communities remain our top priority. The six metro Atlanta health care systems will continue to work together to educate and inform the public regarding COVID-19and address the most critical health needs impacting our area. We also would like to express our appreciation to the Governor for his support of our workforce and the newly announced funding to address staffing shortages at hospitals across the state due to COVID-19, and to the Georgia Department of Public Health for continued outreach to the public regarding issues affecting our patients, care team members and community,” the statement concludes.