Georgia sees another near-record day in COVID-19 cases amid omicron’s spread

It was a busy morning at Grady Memorial Hospital’s emergency department. Officials with the Georgia Department of Public Health stressed to the public that people should not seek COVID-19 tests at hospital emergency rooms unless they are experiencing severe COVID-19 symptoms.
Thursday, December 30, 2021. Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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It was a busy morning at Grady Memorial Hospital’s emergency department. Officials with the Georgia Department of Public Health stressed to the public that people should not seek COVID-19 tests at hospital emergency rooms unless they are experiencing severe COVID-19 symptoms. Thursday, December 30, 2021. Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The coronavirus continued its onslaught across Georgia as the holiday weekend began with officials reporting thousands of new cases due to the omicron variant.

The Georgia Department of Public Health on Friday reported 24,320 confirmed and probable coronavirus infections, the second-highest total of the pandemic. DPH doesn’t update its online tally of numbers on holidays or weekends, so Friday’s numbers were the latest available as the new year rolled around.

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A day earlier, Georgia reported more than 25,000 cases, nearly double the worst day Georgia reported before omicron. Thursday was the third day in a row of record-breaking daily infections, following reports of 13,670 cases Tuesday and 19,894 on Wednesday.

Omicron spreads faster than previous variants, though at least early indications are that many patients generally have less severe symptoms. Still, health officials have warned the more contagious variant could swamp hospitals amid a rapid spread.

Hospitalizations continue to soar as well. At 3 p.m. Friday, 3,056 people were hospitalized in Georgia for COVID-19. The state is nearly halfway to its delta wave hospitalization peak of more than 6,000.

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About 85% of Georgia hospital beds were in use, including about 82% of intensive care beds.

DPH announced Thursday that the first shipments of COVID-19 treatment pills by Merck and Pfizer are heading to a small number of pharmacies throughout Georgia. However, health officials say the initial supply will be very limited.

On Wednesday, Gov. Brian Kemp announced the state will spend $100 million to hire contract hospital workers and deploy about 200 Georgia National Guard troops to hospitals and coronavirus testing centers. supporters healthcare providers.

Later that night, six metro Atlanta hospital systems urged the public to get vaccinated and tested in an effort to curb the spread and preserve medical resources.

Meanwhile, in metro Atlanta, several schools and universities decided to pivot to virtual learning for the spring semester that begins next month.