Atlanta hospitals plead with public to do their part as COVID surges

File photo of Dr. Robert Jansen, chief medical officer and chief of staff at Grady Health
System, speaks at a press conference near the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia in August. (Rebecca Wright for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Rebecca Wright

caption arrowCaption
File photo of Dr. Robert Jansen, chief medical officer and chief of staff at Grady Health System, speaks at a press conference near the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia in August. (Rebecca Wright for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Rebecca Wright

Credit: Rebecca Wright

With coronavirus cases soaring at “a staggering pace” and reaching a new high in Georgia, six metro Atlanta hospital systems released a joint statement Wednesday night pleading with the public to do their part to curb the spread and preserve medical resources.

The six hospital systems – Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Emory Healthcare, Grady Health System, Northeast Georgia Health System, Piedmont Healthcare and Wellstar Health System – urged residents to get vaccinated, save 911 calls for true emergencies and be patient and kind towards medical staff.

Georgia’s fifth wave of the coronavirus, fueled by the omicron variant, has already surpassed the peaks of the previous four. Hospitalizations are again growing and the systems said they have experienced 100% to 200% increases in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the past eight days.

The vast majority of patients are unvaccinated.

caption arrowCaption
In this file photo, Kelly Breedlove reads a book while waiting in line for Covid testing at the Fulton County Center for Health and Rehabilitation on Tuesday morning, Dec. 28, 2021. Breedlove was getting tested because he just returned from traveling to Key West, Fla., for Christmas. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ben Gray

In this file photo, Kelly Breedlove reads a book while waiting in line for Covid testing at the Fulton County Center for Health and Rehabilitation on Tuesday morning, Dec. 28, 2021. Breedlove was getting tested because he just returned from traveling to Key West, Fla., for Christmas. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ben Gray

caption arrowCaption
In this file photo, Kelly Breedlove reads a book while waiting in line for Covid testing at the Fulton County Center for Health and Rehabilitation on Tuesday morning, Dec. 28, 2021. Breedlove was getting tested because he just returned from traveling to Key West, Fla., for Christmas. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

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Testing centers have been overwhelmed since before Christmas, and people are flocking to emergency rooms for tests.

Georgia reported 19,894 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, shattering the state’s previous high set only a day earlier by more than 6,000.

In the group statement, the six hospital systems asked the public to do the following:

— Get fully vaccinated for COVID-19, obtain the COVID-19 booster when eligible and get the seasonal flu vaccine.

— Go to the most appropriate medical facility for your condition when you require care – and do not delay care if you are in need of immediate medical attention.

— Please remember that emergency rooms are for those seeking examination and treatment for medical emergencies, not for routine COVID-19 testing or mild symptoms.

— Please only call 911 with a true emergency. Local 911 operators and EMTs are overwhelmed with calls, so if there is not a real emergency, please call your medical provider for guidance.

— Use at-home testing kits, public health testing locations or independent testing facilities if you need to be tested for COVID-19 unless you are ill and need medical care.

— For routine COVID-19 tests, you can find a location near you on the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) website at: dph.georgia.gov/covidtesting.

— Consult your provider for appropriate treatment options if you are diagnosed with COVID-19.

— Continue to actively follow CDC and DPH guidelines, and practice the “3 Ws” safety measures — wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance.

— Anticipate increased wait times for medical services. Due to the influx of patients and increased demands placed on our health care workforce, we ask everyone who enters our facilities to practice patience and kindness with each other and with our care team members who are providing expert, compassionate care.