ATLANTA — Just four days ago, 11Alive obtained documents that showed the City of Atlanta was preparing to move back to Phase 3 of COVID-19 protocols. But by Monday, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said the city could possibly go back even a step further.
"With the surge in the Delta variant, we've gone backwards," Bottoms said in a news conference on Monday. "And we've always said we would follow the data. And we are very close to going back to Phase 2."
Fulton and DeKalb counties are areas of high community transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In fact, the map on the CDC's website lists the majority of Georgia counties in the red with high transmission.
The rise in cases is causing concern for city leaders and health officials, which is why Bottoms is considering rolling things back.
The main differences between Phase 2 and Phase 3 falls between the words "limit" compared to "essential."
With the city under Phase 3, here's what is listed:
- Individuals are encouraged to limit trips outside your home, wear a mask and social distance
- Businesses should have limited occupancy
- City government can accept special event applications within COVID guidelines.
But under Phase 2, protocols are a little different:
- Individuals are expected to stay home unless its an essential trip
- Restaurants and other businesses are encouraged to have to-go or curbside service.
- City government shall only have essential offices physically open.
There's a push to get more people vaccinated.
"Here in the State of Georgia, we’re lower than the national average. We’re better in the City of Atlanta, but we’re still not where we need to be," said Dr. Carlos del Rio of Emory.
Hospitalizations are also on the rise. As of Tuesday morning, the average number of active COVID patients was at 2,564, which is not far from the state's highest peak of 2,573, which Georgia hit on August 19, 2020.
"We encourage you please do not wait to get vaccinated. It is not worth it," Bottoms said.
Bottoms didn't say if there were specific markers or case numbers that would call for an immediate return to Phase 2, but the mayor and health officials hope the number of people getting vaccinated will significantly increase to help stop the spread of the Delta variant.