ATLANTA — It was another record-breaking day for new COVID-19 cases in Georgia. Wednesday, the Department of Public Health reported 2,946 new cases.
The number of current COVID-19-related hospital patients now stands at 1,570, as shown in the graphic below. That’s not the highest number of active patients we’ve had in this pandemic, but it is the largest since Georgia Emergency Management started providing the data on May first.
“I think we’re seeing a diagnosis made earlier in the course of disease than we did in March or April, and that’s because of increased access to testing,” said Dr. Danny Branstetter, who serves as the Medical Director of Wellstar’s Infection Prevention.
Wellstar Kennestone sits in Health District N, which, according to Georgia Emergency Management, is already using 89 percent of its ICU beds between COVID-19 and other illnesses.
“I’m really concerned about what the next week holds as far as the demand on our ICU level care," Branstetter said.
The line on the chart above indicates the number of active COVID-19 patients since May.
Branstetter said hospitals are ready for it and have room to care for patients, despite how that GEMA data might sound.
“We probably operate on a normal basis, without COVID, at a little bit higher than that at capacity. So, those numbers are not too concerning,” Branstetter added. "If anything, it says, 'yes, we’ve got room to take care of people.' And remember, that number does not include our surge capacity planning."
What is making Branstetter concerned, is the unnecessary risk too many are taking by not wearing masks or social distancing.
“All of these infections are preventable if we just continue to push on and persist. I know everyone’s got COVID fatigue. I have COVID fatigue. It’s important though we get up every day and realize we still have to do our part. We still have to get up and do all those things we really don’t enjoy," Branstetter said.
He’s especially concerned about the rise in cases among 18 to 29 year olds. They now account for 22 percent of the state's positive cases, as shown in the graphic below.
“That’s concerning a little bit because they’re the most mobile members of society, so they’re likely to bring it places,” Branstetter explained. “The one thing I want that age group particularly to know, they’re not immune to the complications of COVID infections.”
That’s because young adults tend to visit doctors less for preventative medicine, so they don’t know if they have any of the underlying factors that increase risk. He said now that they’re coming in, doctors are seeing an increase in high blood pressure and diabetes diagnosis.
Piedmont Health System shared a chart with us, based on internal surveys regarding patient care. It seems people were just starting to feel comfortable with the idea of going back to the hospital for treatment of chronic illnesses and elective surgeries until mid-June.
Despite a dip in confidence, both Piedmont and Wellstar say they’re well-equipped to handle patients of any kind and urged those in need of care not to wait.
“Don’t delay. We’re very prepared to separate those with COVID infection or potential infection from everyone else, so it’s very safe to come to receive your health care," Branstetter said.
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