ATLANTA — Georgia reported the fourth-worst rate of new COVID-19 hospital admissions in the country last week, a federal report said, and the worst is likely still ahead for hospitals already overburdened by the fall and winter surge.
“Georgia is in full pandemic resurgence and will experience continued increases in new COVID (hospital) admissions and fatalities,” the White House Coronavirus Task Force said. The report, dated Sunday, was obtained Wednesday by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The report comes as the number of people in Georgia currently hospitalized for the disease is at record highs, and as the feared but expected surge in deaths from the virus’s third wave appears to have arrived.
The state reported 5,721 patients currently hospitalized for COVID-19 in Georgia about 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday. COVID-19 patients make up more than a third of hospitalized persons in Georgia.
The surge in hospitalizations has taxed hospital staff and resources. Statewide, nine out of 10 ICU beds are full and nearly half of the patients in intensive care have COVID-19, according to state and federal hospital records.
Hospitals across the state have warned of overflowing critical care units and emergency rooms and fears of rationed care. Wednesday brought an alarming call from the CEO of the state’s largest hospital.
John Haupert, the CEO of Grady Health System, which operates Grady Memorial Hospital, wrote in a community briefing that the safety-net hospital is full, treating more coronavirus patients than ever before over the past two weeks.
“If admissions continue to climb, I worry we will face what hospitals in other states grapple with — tough choices on providing care,” Haupert said.
The state’s COVID-19 field hospital at Georgia World Congress Center, which Grady helps run, has 42 patients, out of 60 staffed beds, Haupert said in the memo.
On Wednesday, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) reported 8,596 net new confirmed and suspected cases of COVID-19. The seven-day rolling average of new confirmed and suspected cases sits at about 9,800, more than triple what it was Dec. 1.