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Georgia back in 'red zone' for COVID-19 infections, White House report says

Doctors and hospitals are concerned about the rise in cases.

ATLANTA — Georgia is back in the "red zone" for new COVID-19 cases, according to the latest White House Task Force report on the virus.

Georgia is now one of 42 states in the most severe category for community transmission. Doctors and hospitals are worried about this.

Georgia hospitals are not at capacity yet, but warn with numbers are going up, we could get there quickly.

"We are seeing an increase in our numbers across all communities. It's happening in the US, it's happening across the globe, it's impacting all age groups. So this is a huge problem," said Dr. Danny Branstetter, medical director for infection prevention at the WellStar Health System 

Branstetter said eight months in to this thing, he understands that everyone wants it to be over. 

"We all have COVID fatigue. There are a lot of things people are just over: wearing masks, social distancing, not seeing their family and friends," he said. 

As the temperatures in Georgia drop and the cases of COVID-19 rise, he said it's on everyone to remain vigilant.

"This should cause Georgians to take note and beware that we are having an increase in ongoing transmission within our community and this is a rise in what we have been seeing over the past few weeks," he said. 

When examining COVID patients in the hospital since the beginning of May, in late July - the worst of it - there were around 3,000.

Since the summer surge, the number was cut down to around 1,300 per day. However, what’s happened in the past week shows that we are now above 1,600 and climbing.

The chart below shows the number of active patients compared to new COVID-19 cases since April. You can clearly see the state peaked in July. 

Credit: GA DPH and GA Medical Facility Patients Census

"This is not as high as what we were seeing in July, but we want to do all we can to mitigate it getting to where we were in July and August," he said. 

He said a good place to start is rethinking how to celebrate the holidays without attending large gatherings. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending only getting together with people who live with you or at most, with one other family.

Branstetter says there are some things you can do to make this time a little easier: 

  1. Limit stress.
  2. Get enough sleep
  3. Eat a balanced diet to stay healthy.
  4. Make sure you're still getting routine medical care. 

"We are prepared for that. Lots of planning throughout the state and the globe, about how to provide safe healthcare. So if you have a routine event like a pregnancy or a surgery, don't delay, go get that care because things are set up to keep people infected separated and to deliver that care safely," he said. 

He said this holiday season will be painful for a lot of people if they heed medical advice and celebrate the holidays without extended friends and family, but he recommends postponing those celebrations until the surge in COVID cases is over.