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Hospitals could hit capacity if COVID-19 numbers continue to rise

On Wednesday, Georgia reported the highest new cases number since August.

ATLANTA — Thanksgiving may have just been the start of a bleak holiday season. Experts said a surge in coronavirus cases is likely to get worse through Christmas and the New Year. 

This, as Georgia’s numbers are creeping back up. Georgia is still considered a red zone, according to the latest White House Coronavirus Task Force report. 

Although new vaccines are showing promise experts predict the next season of the virus will be the toughest one yet. 

While the lights and showings of holiday spirit have begun across the metro, coronavirus has prevented the usual crowds and shoppers from coming out in full force. The Georgia Department of Public Health confirmed 4,051 new cases of the virus Wednesday – the highest rate of new infections since August. 

As we get closer to Christmas and the New Year, experts feel the recent jump is a sign of what’s to come. 

"December and January and February are gonna be rough times. I actually believe they're gonna be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation," said Dr. Robert Redfield of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

RELATED: Coronavirus in Georgia | Latest data for Wednesday, Dec. 2

Cases across the country are at an all time high too. 

Nearly 100,000 Americans are now hospitalized which could raise hospital capacity concerns for some Georgia counties like Hall county. 

Back on July 28, two hospitals were at 95 percent capacity with 650 hospitalizations. The Department of Health reported 1,267 hospitalizations in the county Wednesday.

The biggest threat in Georgia is for rural counties with smaller hospitals. In metro Atlanta, hospitals have more capacity.

This comes as the CDC shared plans to change quarantine guidelines to shorten the isolation period from 14 days to seven to 10 days.

"Remember when the 14-day quarantine was set up, it was very early in the pandemic when we had less information," said Michael Osterholm, with the Biden COVID Advisory Board.

RELATED: CDC shortens quarantine guideline to 10 days; 7 days with negative test

Experts said the decision is based off data that was reviewed for weeks. However, the CDC is holding firm on reiterating its Thanksgiving travel guidance for the Christmas holiday, urging Americans not to fly.

Health officials also continue to stress wearing a mask, washing hands and social distancing.