ATLANTA — Georgia is starting to see a higher number of new COVID-19 cases, which has largely been attributed to the spread of the Delta variant.
To put into perspective, the Georgia Department of Public Health saw just over 2,000 new cases of the virus over the weekend. A month ago, the state would only see a few hundred new cases over a three-day span.
Dr. Frita Fisher, internal medicine doctor and nephrologist said she’s seeing longer wait times at emergency rooms across the metro area. She’s worried history could repeat itself.
"We’ve seen this movie before," Dr. Fisher said. "I’m very concerned that we’re going to see similar surges even though we were seeing the light at the end of the tunnel during the pandemic.”
Fisher who, specializes in the treatment of diseases of the kidney, said she’s been struggling to admit her patients to area emergency rooms since last week.
"In one of the hospitals that we really depend on, Grady, they’re actually at a 105% capacity," she said. "When Grady is full, it is usually a symbol for the whole city – that numbers are on the up and up.”
According to Georgia Coordinating Center’s database, at last check, 15 local hospitals are considered overcrowded or severely overcrowded, with six experiencing ICU or ER diversion. That means they are not accepting patients by ambulances to those departments.
"It's very frustrating. At the same time we see hospital wait times going up, we see cases increasing," she added.
The graph below shows the change in the numbers from the last month, from June 20 until July 20.
And on Tuesday, the state finally hit a vaccine milestone of 40% of eligible Georgians are now fully vaccinated. However, that still leaves more than half of the eligible population unvaccinated.
According to DPH, only 94 people who have been vaccinated have died or been hospitalized due to COVID-19. For perspective, out of the over 4 million fully vaccinated Georgians, this group of breakthrough cases only represented .002% of that population.
While some people are still hesitant to get the vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends only individuals who are allergic to an active ingredient in the vaccine to not get it. As far as the population who suffers from autoimmune diseases, Fisher said the benefits far outweigh the risk.
"There is a very small and rare number of people who would not need the vaccination, but because people with lupus and other autoimmune diseases are immune compromised. That means they are at a high risk of getting COVID-19 the disease, death from COVID-19 the disease, respiratory failure with COVID-19 the disease.”
The CDC said the Delta variant is now responsible for 83% of all new U.S. cases. Last week, the CDC director said it only attributed to about 50%, demonstrating just how quickly this strain is spreading.